Seal Clubbing vs Seal Tourism

Cape Cross Seal Colony

Economics of Clubbing

Are seals more valuable to Namibia as tourist attractions or fur coats?

Seal clubbing or Seal watching?

Namibia’s government would like to have it both ways: exploit Cape fur seals as tourist attractions and kill Cape fur seals for their skins, blubber, and genitalia. In order to make this work, international tourists must go along with this plan. As more tourist websites inform travelers about the massacre of Cape fur seals, Namibia’s efforts at dual exploitation may be foiled.

If Namibia has to choose one or the other, which one could generate more revenue for the country? Several NGO’s commissioned a research report to determine the answer to this question. The report, entitled, “Economics of seal hunting and seal watching in Namibia,” was published in 2011.

This report compared direct revenues from seal killing and seal watching in 2008. Direct revenues exclude such things as revenues for restaurants near the seal rookery from seal watching tourists. In 2008, the value of the “landed catch” of Cape fur seals was reported as US$513,000. In contrast, the value of seal watching tourism was over US$2,000,000.

The report also points out that the seal clubbing industry is at or near its limit. The seal population is not growing, and the sealers are already killing so many of the pups born each year, that there is little, if any, possibility to grow this industry. In addition, demand for seal fur has decreased worldwide, as more and more countries have banned the importation of such products due to the cruelty involved.

On the contrary, the seal watching industry is underdeveloped. Few accommodations and services exist near the seal colonies. According to the report, about 10% of Namibian tourists visit the seal colonies. About 70% are international tourists. Clearly, there is room for growth of the seal watching industry.