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PeaceTalks: Sea Shepherd and Capt. Of The Farley Mowat On The Canadian Seal Slaughter
by George Cadman (spittlebugs [at] cruzio.com)
Wednesday Apr 2nd, 2008 12:09 PM
George Cadman of Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.1 FM interviews Capt. Cornelissen of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society about the Canadian government sponsored slaughter of 275,000 baby harp seals happening now. Capt. Cornelissen speaks about the efforts of the Crew of the Farley Mowat to document the killing of seals and the interference they have encountered from the Canadian Coast Guard.
The Sea Shepherd crew onboard the Farley Mowat documented scenes of excessive brutality this morning as they moved through the ice some 35 miles north of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Sea Shepherd crew observed seals being shot and wounded and thrashing about in agony on the surface of the ocean.

The priorities of the Canadian Coast Guard seem to be in harassing the crew of the Farley Mowat and trying to prevent documentation of the inhumane slaughter of seals. Two coast guard vessels shadowed the Farley Mowat all morning. The Coast Guard vessel CCGS Des Groseilliers ordered the Farley Mowat to leave Canadian waters and to not approach any sealing operation stating that a permit is required from the Canadian government to observe the seals being slaughtered.

The Farley Mowat responded by saying; “permits. We don’t need no stinkin’ permits.”

Seal Defense Campaign 2008

For the first time since 2005, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has sent its ship, the Farley Mowat north into the ice packs off Eastern Canada to defend baby harp seals from the ruthless clubs of Canadian sealers. The Sea Shepherd ship,with an international crew of volunteers, will once again act as shepherds in defence of the harp seal pups in the ice packs of the Gulf of St. Lawrence this year.

Canadian Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn has set this year’s quota at 275,000 harp seals to be killed, 5,000 higher than last year, without any scientific justification and without any market justification. In announcing the new quota Hearn said that the seal slaughter has been improved with new rules to make the hunt more “humane.” The new rules are being imposed in an attempt to convince the European Parliament to not ban seal products into Europe. Canada is spending a small fortune in sending delegations to Europe to plea for the right to continue to massacre seal pups. The new rules call for the sealers to sever the arteries of seals under their flippers after they have been shot or clubbed. In total over 325,000 seals are being targeted this year.

Sea Shepherd has been working to remove the markets for seal products as well as mounting dramatic confrontations on the ice to physically save the seals from the cruel clubs of the sealers. The seal hunt survives only because of subsidies doled out to the sealing industry by the government of Canada. It has become a glorified welfare scheme where in return for killing seals for a few weeks the sealers can qualify for unemployment insurance for the rest of the year.

In addition to the hazards of thick ice and nasty weather, the Sea Shepherd crew face the threat of violence from the sealers and the threat of arrest under the Canadian Seal Protection regulations that make it a criminal offense to witness or document the killing of a seal without the permission of the government of Canada. In 2005 eleven Sea Shepherd crew were arrested after being attacked and assaulted by sealers on the ice. Despite being struck by sealing clubs, punched and kicked, not one sealer was arrested for assault. The attack was video-taped and the sealers identified yet the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stated there was insufficient evidence to charge the sealers. The Sea Shepherd crew were jailed and fined for approaching within a half a nautical mile of a seal being killed.

Captain Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has been fighting the Canadian seal slaughter all his life. The commercial hunt was shut down in 1984 and resurrected in 1994.
Sea Shepherd has turned its attention to the plight of the seals. From out of the Southern deep freeze of the Antarctic and into the Northern freezer of Eastern Canada, from saving whales to saving seals - the work of the shepherds of the sea continues.