A newly released video is putting focus on the only seal hunt in the southern hemisphere.
The graphic footage of the Namibian seal hunt, released by the group Earthrace Conservation, shows the clubbing of young pups. The group says the video was captured covertly in 2011 and released after the Namibian government did not respond to a request to halt the hunt.
The annual quota for Cape fur seal pups in Namibia ranges between 80,000 and 90,000 animals, with an additional quota of between 6,000 and 7,000 bulls. In 2012, the quota for the Canadian harp seal hunt was 400,000 animals.
Canada and Namibia are the only two countries to permit the clubbing of seals, according to Earthrace. Annual hunts also take place in Russia, Norway, Iceland and Greenland, but under different rules. It is difficult to know, however, whether clubbing still takes place to some extent during the European hunts.
Namibia has stressed in the past that the seal hunt is aimed at protecting fish stocks, according to The Guardian. Earthrace contends that the South Africa used to make a similar argument, but saw no decline in fish stocks as a result of a ban instituted in 1990.
An Earthrace spokesperson who witnessed the hunt told The Guardian that "terrified pups are rounded up, separated from their mothers, and violently beaten to death. An additional 6,000 bull seals are killed for their genitalia which are thought to be an aphrodisiac in some cultures. Most of this is exported to Asia."
The group argues the hunt provides little economic benefit and that the Namibian government is being hypocritical by allowing hunting in reserves created to protect seals.
A petition to end the seal hunt in Namibia posted in 2012 has garnered more than 70,000 signatures.
The Canadian seal hunt, the largest in the world, has faced international scrutiny and criticism in recent years. The European Union and Russia have both banned imports of seal products.
The Canadian government has argued that the hunt is humane, tightly regulated and economically important to coastal communities.
With files from The Canadian Press