Commercial sealing began in Southern Africa in the early 17th century and it was only 1893 when South Africa introduced restrictions on sealing. None were introduced in Namibia until 1922. The South African government conducted the seal hunts until 1979 after which it was handed over to private concessionaires. Commercial sealing was eventually outlawed in South Africa in 1990.
When sealing operations occurred on offshore islands, seals fled to the mainland. The first mainland colony was developed in the 1940s. Mainland harvesting methods are used which were developed for offshore harvesting.
Evidence and statistics show that offshore island populations have declined by 90%+ since sealing occurred and since Namibian independence, by a further 35%. Seals have been forced to look for safety on the mainland. This is close to a 100% collapse of the offshore population.
Statistics indicate mass die-offs in 1988, 1989, 1995, 200, 2002 and 2006. The population numbers have not recovered. 2006 pup number calculations produced a total of less pups available for harvesting than the actual quota allowed.
Quota numbers were doubled during 2006 when population was 27% lower than the peak in seal populations dating back to 1993.
In 2007, a meeting was held with the Namibian Prime Minster, but despite proposals of economic and community-based improvement through seal tourism which would contribute considerably more to the country's economy than sealing, the leader of Namibia stood fast in his decision to continue the annual seal cull.
Such a scale of mass killing and dying has an adverse effect on the ecosystem. The function of a predator is to keep the "lower" species in check, and removing such a predator from its environment can have a domino effect on the ecosystem. These effects are almost always negative.
In 2008, the European Union (EU) released a damning report in which unacceptable cruelty was found in the Namibian seal "culling" system. It was revealed that methods used in killing seals are ruthless and inhumane.
Countries such as the United States of America, Mexico, Croatia, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and even South Africa have banned the import of Cape fur seal products. Recently, the EU passed a ban on the import of seal products in to its 27 member states, which would include the Cape fur seal.
There are no independent observers, and no one may witness the "cull." Hunting permits are also issued which allows these seals to be killed with a bow and arrow.
The Namibian Seal "cull" is the second largest quota issued (after Canada) in the world. However, because the Canadian sealers cannot manage to kill all the seals in their quota, Namibia has jumped to the top spot - the Number One Seal Killing Nation in the World.