Stop the Canadian Seal Slaughter
Canada's commercial seal "hunt" is the largest mass slaughter of marine mammals in the world. This year, Canada will allow 270,000 harp seals to be killed.
Canada's 2006 quota for killing seals: 325,000 for the regular commercial "hunt" and an additional 10,000 harp seal allowance for new aboriginal initiatives, personal use, and Arctic hunts. As usual, the commercial quota was exceeded, resulting in over 330,000 seals being kiilled.
During the previous three years, the government of Canada delivered the death sentence to over one million baby harp seals.
Sea Shepherd continues to oppose this annual obscenity called a "hunt." It is not a hunt because the sealers simply walk up to the seals (who have no means of escaping or hiding) and bash the seals on the head or shoot them.
Sea Shepherd, known for direct action, has and continues to use other methods to fight to bring the "hunt" to a permanent end. In 2005, Sea Shepherd joined many other organizations in promoting the international boycott of Canadian seafood products as a means to strip the commercial seal "hunt" of all economic value and force it, by financial means, to end. The Boycott of Canadian Seafood targets the very people who slaughter the seals: It isthe fishing industry that runs the seal "hunt" which is a make-work project for off-season fisherman.
Sea Shepherd believes the following about the Canadian seal slaughter:
- The slaughter of seals is incredibly cruel (a post mortem survey has shown that 42% of these babies are skinned alive)
- It is a threat to the survival of the species
- It is a threat to the survival of cod
- It is a slaughter done mainly for unessential, vanity, and luxury items, and therefore, is unnecessary
- It is unethical to slaughter newborn seal pups (About 95% of the seals to be slaughtered are babies less than four weeks old)
In 2005, the Sea Shepherd flagship Farley Mowat sailed to the ice floes of Eastern Canada and had a successful campaign although we did not stop the seal slaughter. What we did do was to elevate international public and media awareness of the slaughter. The Canadian government was forced on the defensive.
Eleven of our crew were arrested for filming seal killers without permission from the government. These arrests will give us the opportunity to challenge these censorship regulations as violations of the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights.
Despite the regulations and despite attempts by the Canadian government to prevent us from entering the ice floes, we did break our way into the floes and we were able to block and annoy the sealers. We were there as the eyes and ears of the world community to document the lies continuously spewed forth by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The Canadian government states that the seals are killed humanely. Our documentation has proven otherwise.
The Canadian government states that they do not subsidize the "hunt." Our documentation has exposed this lie - time and again, we witnessed the Canadian Coast Guard ships breaking ice and leading sealing ships through the floes to get to the seal nurseries. [see Parade of Fools for more information]. Also, during bad weather, the Coast Guard were extremely busy rescuing sealers whose ships became locked in the ice.
We documented the Canadian Coast Guard ship running down and crushing seals in the ice. We documented hostile sealers viciously attacking our crew on the ice.
The Canadian government spent hundreds of thousands trying to make sure we did not take any pictures of seals being killed. Their Coast Guard vessel, Amundsen, kept close watch on us - sometimes, dangerously close.
Last year marked the first time in history that an anti-sealing vessel has gone to the Labrador Front to challenge the sealers. We were also the only organization in the world opposing the slaughter in the field off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. All previous campaigns have been in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, although Sea Shepherd had come close in 1983 when we blockaded the harbor at St. John's, Newfoundland, to prevent the sealing fleet from leaving. That action resulted in the only time the quota was not exceeded. In fact, there were 76,000 seals directly saved by that action.
In the spring of 2005, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the seals had the support of the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat in the ice and crews from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) who flew by helicopter to the ice when weather permitted.
The advantage the ship gave to Sea Shepherd was the ability to stay with the sealers in the ice despite the weather.
Another phase of our seal defense campaign - the Seal of Approval Campaign - is in full swing. The boycott of Canadian seafood is being promoted by Sea Shepherd and many other organizations and has two parts:
- We are asking individuals around the world to refrain from buying Canadian seafood from restaurants or grocery stores until the slaughter of harp seals is ended.
- We are recruiting restaurants, hotels, and food distributors to agree to not sell or serve Canadian seafood until the slaughter of harp seals is ended.
We need to expose what the Canadian government would like to keep hidden. We need to once again show the world the horror of the blood-drenched ice floes and the pitiful suffering of the young seal pups as they die. We need to keep the slaughter on the front pages in order to keep it from disappearing out-of-sight and, therefore, out-of-mind.
Please stand with us on the ice floes off Eastern Canada and hold up the banner for life, for the defenseless baby harp seals and their mothers.