The Great Bloody White North
The Canadian Seal Slaughter and How I Really Feel About It!
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
“Mr. Speaker, I would like to see the 6 million seals, or whatever number is out there, killed and sold, or destroyed and burned. I do not care what happens to them...the more they kill the better I will love it."
- John Efford, former Newfoundland Fisheries Minister and Federal Minister of Natural Resources
There is only one word to describe the Canadian government’s 2011 kill quota for seals and that word is “insane.” It’s also very silly and immature.
In the interest of appeasing the ecologically ignorant fishermen who have been impoverished by the gross management incompetence of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), the government has set the highest kill quota ever imposed on the seals with an allowable slaughter of 468,200 harp, Grey, and hood seals. This is an increase of 148,200 over the ridiculously high kill quota of 330,000 seals in 2010.
Strangely, every year the government sets the quotas higher, although the actual kills have been in general decline each year. The DFO kill quota in 2007 was 275,000 seals and the actual kill was 82,800. In 2008, the DFO raised the quota to 280,000, allowing the sealers, in their last real effort, to kill 217,800 seals thanks to a huge boost in subsidies and government support by former Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn. But in 2009, despite a kill quota of 280,000, the actual kill fell to 72,400. Last year the DFO raised the quota to 330,000, an all time high, and the sealers took their lowest numbers ever with 67,000 kills.
The current Fisheries Minister Gail Shea could have set the quota at a million as her present fantasy number of seals she would like to see slaughtered, but without any real financial incentive, the sealers will again probably not exceed 100,000 in deaths inflicted.
So what is the purpose of raising the kill quotas while the actual number of seals killed continues to be far below the government kill quotas? And why are these numbers so distant from each other? As a Canadian, I will tell you why.
There is a real disconnect between the club swinging serial seal killers and the low-life political scum suckers that prowl the corridors of Canada’s federal parliament. The sealers tend to be somewhat practical with their feet planted in the reality of their economic environment, whereas the politicians and bureaucrats exist in the fantasy world of posturing and posing where the costs of fuel, prices of pelts, the dangers of the ice, and the realities of climate are irrelevant.
The politicians, and especially the incompetent bureaucrats that run the Canadian DFO, are a mean-minded bunch of vindictive, shallow, and petty people. They have decided that the slaughter of seals is a cultural tradition for Canada and that backing the thugs with clubs is an act of patriotism, or more to the point they hope to get their vote in the upcoming federal election.
In America, it’s mom and apple pie, and politicians kissing babies. In Canada, its baby-bashers, seal flipper pie, and clubbing baby seals. For nearly four decades, the Newfoundlanders have controlled the Goofy Nufie Doofus Department otherwise known as the DFO. Newfoundlanders compose the majority of the bureaucrats in the DFO and most of the fisheries ministers have hailed from the Rock.
It is true that four provinces actually participate in the slaughter. Nova Scotia, and my native province of New Brunswick take some, while the meanest, most barbaric group of killers are the residents of the ‘Maganderthal’ Isles in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. But the largest group of club-swinging, whining barbarians are the Newfoundlanders. Now not all Newfoundlanders are thugs and baby seal bashers, but many Newfoundlanders have defended the slaughter in the name of some vague notion that killing baby seals is the foundation upon which the Nufie identity sits. Americans have baseball, the Australians have cricket, the Japanese have sumo wrestling, and the Newfoundlanders have baby seal bashing.
It really is embarrassing to be a Canadian and to be associated with this shameful horror show, especially when you consider that the ‘Maganderthals’ drink seal blood and paint a crucifix on their heads as some sort of ritualistic coming of age charade. Adding to the silliness is a Governor General who kept barbarism alive in the 21st Century by eating a raw seal heart on international television, where the true north strong and free was loyally championed by Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean, the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II, with seal blood drooling from her lips as she smiled. Ahhh I was so proud to be a Canadian that day, yes sir, proud indeed eh.
How this east coast orgy of blood and gore is representative in any traditional sense at all for Canada would be a mystery, if not for the fact that the federal government of Canada has a history of dismissing the western half of Canada. The Canadian flag represents this fact in a very blatant way, by featuring a maple leaf, coming from a tree that is not native anywhere west of Ontario.
I am a Canadian and a Maritimer raised in the New Brunswick fishing village of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea on Passamaquoddy Bay. We New Brunswickers are called herring chokers, whereas the people of Nova Scotia are known as Bluenosers, the people of Prince Edward Island are called Spud Islanders, and the people of Newfoundland are called Nufies or Newfies. Some people, none of whom are from the Maritimes or they would know better, have actually called me a racist for using these names. This is of course ridiculous as Maritimers have called each other by these names for well over a century.
Now “herring choker” is not a word I would choose to be known by, but it does not bother me just as being called a “Canuck” does not bother me or any other Canadian I know, well unless they are hockey fans, not rooting for the Vancouver Canucks. And speaking as a herring choker, and being raised in a fishing village, I have firsthand witnessed, the steady diminishment of the fisheries of Eastern Canada under the extreme mismanagement of the Canadian government’s legendary legion of lazy liars that make up the DFO.
This is the same government that oversaw the complete and utter destruction of the greatest fishery on earth – the cod fishery of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. What they did by capitulating to the insatiable greed of the fishing industry was wipe out an entire species, completely diminishing the entire oceanic ecosystem of Eastern Canada.
Fisheries Ministers Romeo LeBlanc, John Crosbie, Brian Tobin, Loyola Hearn, and Gail Shea have been the worst of the arrogantly ignorant moronic ministers that presided over this ecological crime against humanity from 1976 until present day. And they just keep getting dumber and dumber with Shea being the most cruel, incompetent seal bashing, nature-destroying troglodyte of them all.
A few years ago when I debated Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette on the CBC’s Mike Duffy show, I had to listen to her spout such nonsense as, “the seal hunt is the most humane, well regulated hunt of any wild animal in the world.” Any person who has witnessed it knows that is a line of beaver crap. The senator admitted she had never seen it but she had “been told,” by the fisheries bureaucrats that it was “humane and well regulated, and that was good enough for me.”
Of course to be a senator in Canada is not a job requiring intelligence or skill. Canadian senators are appointed for life by the Prime Minister for favors rendered, which can range from patronage or being a golf buddy to in this particular senator’s position – sleeping with the right person, like a former Prime Minister for example.
I saw my first seal killed when I was ten years of age. I said then, as I continue to say now, that this senseless slaughter, this bloody horrific obscenity is the most shameful blemish on the escutcheon of Canada in all of our history. I witnessed the mass slaughter in all its scarlet stained frigid horror, first in 1976, and then again numerous times since. I have pulled seal clubs from the hands of sealers, I have fought with them on ice, and on land. I’ve taken my ships in the icepack, blockaded their harbors, and chased their ships from the killing grounds. I’ve been beaten by them, and I’ve knocked a few down in self-defense. I have witnessed the incredible cruelty and stupidity of these baby killing monsters all of my life and I have done all within my power to end this shameful horror that has blighted Canada throughout its history, a bloody history that started with the genocide of our indigenous people, that massacred the beaver, and drove the sea mink, the giant auk, the Newfoundland wolf, the Labrador duck, and so many other species to extinction.
I have no respect for the traditional fishing so-called culture of the Atlantic Provinces. I saw them when I was a child pumping oil over board from their bilges, tossing their plastic garbage and old nets into the sea and shooting anything that moved in the water or flew above it, just for the fun of it. People in the cities can admire the fishermen if they choose but I was raised with them, saw them, and their catch every day and realized at an early age that these were men that I did not wish to become.
When critics say I should respect them I can only reply – why should I? Their behavior is well documented in books like Sea of Heartbreak and Over the Side Micky by Newfoundland writer Michael Dwyer, The Living Ice by Magdalen Island writer Pol Chartraine, or Vikings of the Ice by New England writer Arthur England. And the entire history of this destruction of the natural balance of nature is well documented in Sea of Slaughter by Farley Mowat.
The seal killers of Canada are ecological criminals and the politicians that have empowered this slaughter are worse. The first group inflicts cruelty and slaughter for money and sadistic pleasure, and the second group enables the killing for power and control. To listen to the ecological dunces who blame the seals for the diminishment of the cod is an exercise in witnessing blatant denial in the face of evidence and historical fact.
There were no shortages of fish when French explorer Jacques Cartier first landed in Eastern Canada. And there were many more seals then than there are now, including the walrus, now extirpated on the east coast. Three hundred years of fishing by Canadians, Americans, and Europeans hardly caused a dent in the population of the cod. That is until the 1950s, and the deployment of huge drag trawlers! That technology began the rape and pillage of the Grand Banks, an exercise condoned and encouraged by the Canadian and Newfoundland governments.
And to further their ignoble ends, they employed government marine biologists who have become little more than biostitutes, justifying government decisions all the way to the very day of the collapse of the cod fishery in 1992. But that was okay because they got to keep their jobs, as did the bureaucrats, while the fishing corporations made a killing. The only human victims were the fishermen who were laid off, but easily appeased, by pointing a finger at the seals as being responsible for the demise of the fisheries.
And Canadian fishermen not being renown for their keen intelligence and deep perception swallowed the lie, hook, line, and sinker as they screamed for the heads of the seals in the ridiculous perception that killing seals would bring back the cod. In the 16th Century, there was no shortage of fish, with a seal population of some 40 million animals. Yet today, a mere few million seals are a threat to the fishery? What’s that all about?
Any marine biologist knows that the food chain in any oceanic ecosystem is complex and involves hundreds of species interacting with each other. Canadian biostitutes however see only three species – seals, cod, and humans, and therefore by removing one species, there will be more fish for the other species.
Aside from humans, the largest predator of juvenile cod are other fish, like herring, mackerel, and capelin, all species which happen to be the primary food for the seals. Thus lowering seal populations increases predatory fish populations resulting in increased predation on young cod. In other words, the cod need the seals and the seals need the cod. What they don’t need are humans pretending to be Gods trying to set nature straight with a club and a rifle.
And now in the face of climate change and global warming, when the harp seals are threatened by the reduction of the ice floes they depend upon to give birth to their young, the Canadian Department of Fishy business decides to up the kill quota to an all time historical high. And none of the seals that have perished, because of the diminished ice conditions, are factored into the kill quota. And it is because of this diminishment of essential habitat, that the harp seal, in my opinion, is an endangered species.
Furthermore, the majority of Canadians are opposed to the commercial seal slaughter, but the Canadian government historically has never let majority opinion get in the way of government policy.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will not be directly intervening against the seal slaughter this year and maybe not again. Why? Because the government wants us to interfere. Why? Because the only thing the government has left to defend the hunt is an appeal to nationalistic pride to not give into the demands of the seal defenders. The government needs us to contribute to their program of distraction. But we’re not going to play their game.
The last year that we took a ship into the ice was in 2008, Hearn used us as a rallying cry to incite the sealers to kill more seals, and the slaughter spiked. Hearn’s incompetence saw the death of four sealers that year when he allowed sealing boats to be put to sea that were not ice strengthened with a coast guard, that due to negligence, towed one of the sealing boats straight under the ice.
Hearn deflected criticism of his incompetence by accusing Sea Shepherd of exploiting the seal hunt for profit. He incited the sealers by pointing fingers at me for saying, “whereas the death of the sealers due to the incompetence of the Canadian government is a tragedy, the slaughter of 280,000 harp seals is a greater tragedy.”
When a CBC television reporter asked me to apologize to the sealers for this remark, I looked into the camera and said, “I apologize for being a Canadian and for being associated with this bloody barbaric industry – the seal slaughter.”
Many Canadians are still angry with me for these remarks but I continue to stand by them. The four sealers chose to go to the ice, and willfully chose to go to sea in vessels inadequate for the job. They chose to put their fate into the hands of the Canadian Coast Guard. They chose to be baby seal killers. The seal pups however, did not choose to be their victims, they did not choose to die and were innocent, and thus the slaughter of 217,800 seals that year was in my opinion a far greater tragedy. I happen to value the lives of 217,800 seals pups over the lives of four of their killers and I make no apology for that, nor will I ever.
When Captain Abraham Kean continued killing seals in the wake of the notorious Newfoundland sealing tragedy that left 78 men dead in 1914, he boldly declared that the slaughter was more important than the lives of his own men. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire for massacring a million seals. Whereas he thought that the deaths of 78 men were less important than his profits, I saw the deaths of 217,800 seals as more of a tragedy than the death of four sealers.
No Order of Canada for me – not that I care.
By setting this kill quota so ridiculously high, Shea has displayed her hand. The Canadian commercial seal hunt is dead and she knows it. The key is and always has been economics. Decades of campaigning have knocked the floor out of the market and there is simply not enough money in sealing to justify it. Yet, like any dying industry, government handouts will prop it up for a few years. I mean if bashing a baby seal pup’s head is not shameful enough, taking the dole is hardly a blow to their pride.
With the market gone in Europe, Canada made a big announcement that new markets were now available in China. However in March 2011, the National People's Congress of China accepted two legislative proposals to ban the trade in seal products. The United States, Canada's largest trading partner, has prohibited trade in seal products since 1972, and Mexico and Croatia have also recently followed suit. It’s a dying archaic barbarous industry and it will not and cannot survive in the face of progressive international laws banning seal products.
So Shea said, “I’m going to show these seal-hugging bastards that Canada will not back down.” So she set this silly kill quota of 468,200 seals hoping that it would provoke us to return to the ice to give her a confrontation that she can use to make herself the heroine of the sealers as Hearn attempted to do in 2008.
However, the seal hunt has already begun for 2011, and only a couple of boats have headed out to the ice packs to club and shoot seals. Shea will be a frustrated Cruella De Ville and will be denied the satisfaction of dispatching 468,200 innocent souls. She may have to turn to torturing puppies to satisfy her sadistic urges, or she could take a trip to the Bahamas and get counseling from exiled convicted serial killer Karla Homolka on how to live when there are no more opportunities to kill something innocent. Anyhow, her dark passenger is her problem, but recovering from the shame of being a citizen of a nation that has massacred millions of seal pups is our challenge.
The price of outfitting a sealing trip is more expensive than any profits that will be realized so only the truly primitive and sadistic are heading to the ice this year to drink raw seal blood and to finger paint religious symbols on their foreheads. Now is the time for us to get smart and to let it go. Let the seal slaughter silliness die and let’s not let them feed on hating us as a justification for their killing.
Shea will not get her 468,200 seals. Most of these sealers are saying, “Where is the money?” And the money just ain’t there.
The efforts of Sea Shepherd, the IFAW, the Fund for Animals, Friends of Animals, HSUS, PETA, the Franz Weber Foundation, the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, and Greenpeace, in their early days, has paid off.
The marketplace has been busted and the tables of the fur traders and moneychangers has been overturned. The Canadian seal slaughter is a dying industry that can only hold on by virtue of massive government subsidies which means of course that all sealers are nothing more than whining welfare bums feeding at the public trough. If the markets should return, we will return, but we need to realize that this is a battle won, and all we can do now if we continue to confront them is to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory by antagonizing them.
The sealers should be happy about one thing, however. For years they have been harping on this accusation that anti-sealers are in this for the money, that we are simply using the seals to raise money for donations. Well, no seal hunt – no donations, and I’m happy about that because for me it was all about being in business to put ourselves out of business and that is exactly what has been accomplished by putting these cruel baby-bashing ecological criminals out of business.