Despite the rain on Saturday, several activists rallied at the in La Jolla to protest against the clubbing of seals in the South African country of Namibia.
Alicia MacNamara, a Southern California activist that braved the weather, said Namibia is responsible for the largest slaughter of wildlife each year. She said 85,000 seals are beaten to death annually. The clubbing of Cape Fur seals in Namibia is drawing attention of the act worldwide.
“We are doing a protest for the seals of the world,” said MacNamara. “We are here to draw awareness to the cruelty around the world with seal clubbing. We are also trying to protect the seals here on our local beach against people scaring them off during pupping season.”
MacNamara helped organize the rally via Facebook. More than 50 individuals had planned to attend the event, however by noon only a handful had come down in the rain and strong winds.
“They (the city) should just block off the beach. People can stand on the second tier to see the seals. You don’t need to be two or three feet away from the seals to see them. There has to be limits,” said MacNamara.
The debate on beach access to the Children’s Pool in La Jolla has been heated for many years. Beach access advocates want the beach, which is protected by a man-made breaker wall, to be accessible for divers, fishermen and swimmers year round. However, many seal activists want the beach, which is used as a rookery for seals, to be closed during the pupping season from Dec. 15 to May 15 each year; others want the beach closed year-round.
Just last week, City Council voted to seek permits to close the Children's Pool in La Jolla during pupping season for harbor seals. The Parks and Recreation Department will apply for the permits from the California Coastal Commission, which would bar people from using the beach during pupping season. If approved by the commission, the ban would go into effect in the next pupping season. In addition, there is a petition to preserve beach access. .
Also in town for the protest was Pete Bethune, founder of Earthrace Conservation, an organization aimed at identifying marine conservation issues and intervening when and where necessary to protect and defend threatened marine ecosystems worldwide. Bethune, an activist and conservationist formerly with Sea Shepherd, said the trouble in protecting the seals at the Children’s Pool is that it is not illegal to go on the beach and it is illegal to harass them.
“It is a fine line. If you are on the beach, is that harassment?” he asked and then added, “it should not be a big ask to block off this one beach.”
Bethune also called for better civic leadership to protect these animals.
During Patch’s visit to the beach, several seals got scared and scurried off the beach into the ocean. Seal activists attest the movement, also called a flush, was a result of individuals on the beach. Beach access activists attest the flush was a result of Earthrace Conservation shaking out and hanging their large banner on the seawall.
David Pierce, a local diver and beach access advocate, was also down at Children’s Pool on Saturday. He is there most weekends enjoying the sand and the surf.
“We don’t hate the seals, but they have to coin us that because they need an evil for their cause,” said Pierce.
Pierce said he does not support clubbing of seals either.
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