Legal Opinion on the Namibian Seal Slaughter

From all-creatures.org
Animal Rights Articles

Moo-ving people toward compassionate living

Visit our Home Page
Write us with your comments

Legal Opinion on the Namibian Seal Slaughter

From Francois Hugo, Seal Alert South Africa, June 2011

To fill a contract of over 1 million seal pup skins by 2019 on a seal population lower than 850,000 seals.

Enshrined in the Namibian constitution is the sustainable use of living marine resources. Environmental sustainability is the process of making sure current processes of interaction with the environment are pursued with the idea of keeping the environment as pristine as naturally possible.

Should the planned July 2011 seal harvest be halted, Namibia would end the last remaining country in the southern hemisphere harvesting seals.

In less than 30 days Namibia will start its annual slaughter of over 91,000 endangered Cape fur seals, in which mostly seal pups are clubbed to death in a harvest driven by commercial gain. To fill a contract of over 1 million seal pup skins by 2019 on a seal population lower than 850,000 seals. Various boycotts and protest marches will be held around the world in condemnation.

Seal Alert-SA is calling upon the Prime Minister of Namibia to consider halting the annual seal harvest and commission a Legal Commission of Enquiry to investigate the lawful legislation or lack thereof governing current seal harvesting. The legal opinion commissioned can be downloaded - http://www.mediafire.com/?cx8225tknr6vvc8

Should the seal harvest be halted, Namibia would end the last remaining country in the southern hemisphere harvesting seals.

Jurisdiction in law is the very basis upon which a nation defines its sovereignty or goes to war and upon which the foundation of authority and law is indeed based. Jurisdiction (from the Latin ius, iuris meaning "oath" and dicere meaning "to speak") is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility. The term is also used to denote the geographical area or subject-matter to which such authority applies. Jurisdiction draws its substance from public international law, conflict of laws, constitutional law and the powers of the executive and legislative branches of government to allocate resources to best serve the needs of its native society. It is the legal definition between right and wrong, criminal or lawful, innocent or guilty and upon which a society functions. No Minister should be permitted to flout "jurisdiction" or ignore entirely this basis in the foundation of law and order.

It is within Jurisdiction that permits the nation of Namibian to exist or permits the Minister of Fisheries to lawfully harvests marine resources including seals within its borders. It is within jurisdiction that the media has been banned from filming the seal cull, where film-makers where arrested and charged with fines of up to N$500 000 or 12 years in prison. It is within jurisdiction that the Minister of Environment and Tourism charges tourists millions of dollars to view seals and it is within jurisdiction that the Minister of Fisheries grants long-term sealing rights to harvest a million endangered seal pups until 2019.

Flouting jurisdiction, is therefore criminal and punishable under Namibian Law.

Consider carefully the implications of such acts. Should the Minister unsustainably harvest seals in such a manner as to cause seals to flee from their natural habitat on islands to safer waters in South Africa or Angola, would it be permissible for the sealers to go after those fleeing seals and harvest these seals in South Africa or Angola. Clearly not, some might even view such actions as a act of war. Likewise should sealers have disturbed these endangered protected seals to such an extent as to cause these seal colonies on islands to collapse and go extinct, and seals to flee to alternative habitat on the mainland as a result, beyond the lawful jurisdiction of the Minister of Fisheries, whose jurisdiction within Namibia ends at the borders of his country and the high-water mark on the mainland.

Would such actions to move harvesting activities to the mainland, flout jurisdiction and rights of private property, to simply pursue seal killing, be lawfully justified and acceptable to all, either from a legal or wildlife conservation perspective?

Enshrined in the Namibian constitution is the sustainable use of living marine resources. Environmental sustainability is the process of making sure current processes of interaction with the environment are pursued with the idea of keeping the environment as pristine as naturally possible.

The legal opinion referred to above documents the implications of such unlawful actions by a Minister of State and sealers alike.