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Namibia to cull 67,000 Cape fur seals
WINDHOEK, Namibia (Reuters) -- The Namibian government said Wednesday it will cull 67,000 seals this year, its biggest annual quota in six years.
The cull, which the government says is to preserve fish stocks, is likely to be fiercely opposed by wildlife organizations, who protest against the clubbing deaths.
"The seal harvest season will start on August 1 and go until November 15 and it provides for 60,000 pups and 7,000 bulls to be harvested," the Information Ministry said in a statement.
"As in the past, the Wildlife Society of Namibia will be allowed to attend the harvest as observers," it added.
The quota is almost double the 35,000 seals culled last year, and the government has given four companies concessions for the harvest, up from two last year.
The country, which has the world's largest population of the Cape fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus), insists it has to cull the mammals annually because of dwindling fish stocks.
However, wildlife organizations say the main reason for the harvest is economic. The seals are clubbed to death and bull penises are sold to Asian countries, where they are used in sex potions. Seal oil and pup fur also fetch high prices.
This year's cull is the largest since 1994, when the country harvested 55,000 pups and 12,000 bull seals. In the same year 200,000 seals out of an estimated population of 800,000 starved to death when climatic changes drove away the fish that are their main food.
The government Wednesday also increased its annual pilchard quota to 25,000 tons from 15,000 tons, but has expressed concern about its fish stocks.
"The stock is not in a good state," Fisheries Minister Abraham Iyambo said last week.
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Where does a 2-ton seal sit? Any where he wants
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