Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

When I was a little boy growing up in an East coast Canadian fishing village I had a dream.

That dream was to end the horrific slaughter of baby harp and hood seals in Canada. Seeing seals killed as a boy haunted my dreams and shaped my life as an activist.

I was not some big city raised privileged child protesting the seal hunt because it was the politically correct thing to do. Where I lived it was the politically incorrect thing to do. As for privileged, an accusation that many sealers have spat at me, well, I was the eldest of seven children raised primarily by a single mother and I brought fish, clams and lobsters home that I caught myself to help feed the family starting at the age of eight.

I also spent time freeing fur bearing animals from leghold traps and then destroying the traps and snares. I sabotaged deer and bear hunts and defended wildlife, a stand that placed me in numerous fights with other kids and disapproval from the fishermen and the hunters. Fortunately for me I was not a frail child and I won most of the fights and discouraged ridicule. I remember one kid asking me what right did I have to stop him from killing birds. My answer was simply, "I'm bigger than you."

In a community of kids armed with B.B. guns, I used mine to persuade other kids to not shoot birds and snakes. I quit cub scouts after seeing a scout master stomp a snake to death and then dissect a struggling frog.

And the moving force behind my young activism was the image that I see as clearly today as I did in 1960 - the sight and sound of a spiked club cracking in the skull of an innocent snowy white seal pup on a New Brunswick beach. I still see his pleading desperate eyes and I can recall the dull thud of the club as the blood gushed out over the ice.

Since 1975, I have led continuous campaigns against the obscenity of the Canadian seal slaughter. I brought the first ever ship to the ice to protect seals in 1979, returning in 1981, and 1983. We shut the commercial part of the horror down in 1984 but returned again in 1994, bringing the ships back in 1998 and 2005. We will return again with our ship Farley Mowat again this year in March.

I have never given up on these seals vowing that the slaughter would end in my lifetime. And now at long last, after a lifetime of confrontations, battles on the ice, blockades, ship rammings, riots, beatings, imprisonment, fines, assaults, death threats and the danger of shifting ice and hostile weather in remote stretches of ocean I can see the light at the end of this long struggle.

We are winning and we will win! The seals will win and I believe that we can at long last put an end to one of the most perversely evil chapters in Canadian history.

I believe we can abolish the seal slaughter once and for all!

This movement that so many of us have built over the last four decades is about to bring an economic club down on the thick headed skull of the sealing industry. We now have the potential to wipe out the Canadian sealing industry and we need to give it a final push.

The Canadian government and the sealing industry are admitting that they are facing a crisis because of escalating import bans. Europe is on the verge of a blanket ban on all seal products including Canadian harp and hood seals and South African fur seals.

On January 8th, Bruce Williams, the Chairman of the Canadian Fur Institute informed a gathering of over 100 sealers that the future of the seal hunt is looking bleak.

"Unfortunately, the animal rights organizations around the world have come to realize that the easiest way to kill something - for maybe lack of a better term - is to kill the market," Williams said. "If you can't sell the product, if it has no commercial value, then I would say that it is doomed."

Belgium and Holland have approved legislation prohibiting the sale of seal products. Germany, Italy and Austria are drafting similar legislation, prompting pressure for the European Union to adopt a ban.

While those countries aren't Canada's biggest importers of seal products, they serve as a critical shipment and manufacturing point to the larger markets of Norway, Russia and China.

Williams said there's an additional effect an EU-wide ban could have on the sealing industry.

"One thing I can tell you is that if fur is not fashionable on the runways of Paris and Milan, it's not going to be fashionable anywhere," he said. "The simple reality today is the big markets are China and Russia, but they want things that are in style, and style is not dictated by those countries. It's dictated by the countries in Europe."

Loyola Sullivan, Canada's fisheries ambassador, acknowledged Tuesday that efforts to overcome the anti-sealing lobby in Europe would be tough.

"It's difficult because it's advanced so far," Sullivan said. "It's got a tremendous foothold in Europe, and most people close to the situation feel that a ban by other countries is imminent, that it's gone too far. It would be unpopular now for a member of parliament in a European country to support the hunt."

In September, Canada launched a challenge to the World Trade Organization in an effort to persuade the Belgian and Dutch governments to reverse their bans. Ottawa's complaint remains before the WTO and is not expected to obstruct the Dutch or the Belgians.

Mark Small, a former president of the Canadian Sealing Association has finally admitted that Canadian sealers have been sloppy and have not lived up to the propaganda of the seal hunt as being humane.

"I'm definitely sure that, as a sealer myself, we can do a better job than we've been doing in the past," Small said. "We've got to make some compromises if we're going to protect our future industry in this province."

It's difficult to understand How Mr. Small intends to improve on methods that for years he has argued are 100% humane.

Now that the writing is on the wall the sealers are making promises to improve their killing methods but the truth is that there is no humane way to slaughter seals. And opposition to the seal hunt is more than just opposition to killing methods. I have always opposed the killing itself. Canadian east coast seal populations have been diminished from some forty million seals of all species to less than four million. The seal populations have been reduced by 90% and now the harp and hood seals are being faced with threats of ice melt and increased pup mortality because of global warming.

The seal slaughter has no place in a civilized society and no place in the 21st Century. It is a hold-over from the days of mass wildlife plunder and the decimation of seal populations has grossly altered the entire marine eco-system of the Northwest Atlantic region. The diminishment of the cod to less than 4% of it's original levels at the time of the European invasion is partially because of the removal of so many predators (seals) that kept the predatory fish species of the cod in check.

If the European wide ban holds it will end sealing and all of us in this movement must do everything we can to encourage the European Parliament to continue with their legislative efforts to ban all seal products.

Towards this end, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is intending to send our ship the Farley Mowat to the seal slaughter for hopefully the last time. The Farley Mowat will depart from Bermuda in March for the Eastern coast of Canada.

Pin It
Sea Shepherd
Operation Milagro III Campaign Launch Video
Operation Milagro III Campaign Launch Video
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is returning to Mexico’s Gulf of California for Operation Milagro III to save the near extinct vaquita marina porpoise and the endangered totoaba bass. The M/V Farley Mowat is back on active duty with the M/V Sam Simon joining the Milagro campaign for the first ti...
Sea Shepherd Investigates Whale Corpse in Sea of Cortez
Sea Shepherd Investigates Whale Corpse in Sea of Cortez
The Farley Mowat Sea Shepherd crew is called out to investigate a dead Brydes whale in the Gulf of California on November 5th, 2016 while patrolling the vaquita refuge. To help the Sea Shepherd crew to continue its work in the Sea of Cortez, including protecting the near-extinct vaquita marina porpo...
Entanglement in the South
Entanglement in the South
Operation Guardian Angel - In and around Bahia de Los Angeles, in the Gulf of California, countless marine species are entrapped in nets with little or no hope of rescue. Rosalia Tellez works for CONANP, a department of the Mexican government that acts as park rangers to enforce laws and assist in ...
Good and Bad Days
Good and Bad Days
This video follows Sea Shepherd volunteers over the course of two days. The first day Sea Shepherd locates and removes a long line from the sea; fortunately no animals were caught in the net. However, the next day volunteers find a sea lion that has been caught and died in a fisherman's net.
Operation Virus Hunter Campaign Summary
Operation Virus Hunter Campaign Summary
Sea Shepherd campaign Operation Virus Hunter saw the vessel RV Martin Sheen under the leadership of Alexandra Morton, head up the coast of British Columbia Canada to expose open pen Atlantic salmon farms and the impact they are having on wild Pacific salmon and the the surrounding eco-systems.
Illegal Totoaba Nets
Illegal Totoaba Nets
This video follows Sea Shepherd volunteers through the process of locating, retrieving and disposing of illegal nets in the Gulf of California.
Discovering Alleged Wild Salmon Dead in Fish Farms
Discovering Alleged Wild Salmon Dead in Fish Farms
August 12th 2016: Early Thursday morning the R/V Martin Sheen assisted Melissa Willie, a band councilor of the Musgamagw Dza’wada’enuxw nation, in hand delivering a letter to three farms expressing the nations disapproval of the industry. Sea Shepherd crew alongside independent biologist Alexand...
The Grind of the Faroe Islands
The Grind of the Faroe Islands
Ross McCall travels to the Faroe Islands to explore the truths behind the centuries old tradition of the brutal Pilot Whale drives.
Operation Virus Hunter: A Salmon PSA with Pamela Anderson
Operation Virus Hunter: A Salmon PSA with Pamela Anderson
Sea Shepherd Chairman of the Board, actor/activist Pamela Anderson, cautions viewers about the dangers of eating farmed salmon.
Why Just One?  Indiegogo Video
Why Just One? Indiegogo Video
Support Sea Shepherd's documentary by sharing and backing our Indiegogo campaign here: http://bit.ly/1OfvER6
Milagro Summary - English
Milagro Summary - English
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Operation Milagro II has come to an end. Milagro is its campaign to fight the looming extinction of the vaquita porpoise, the most endangered marine mammal in the world. With an estimate of less than 100 surviving vaquita, Sea Shepherd ships the R/V Martin Sheen...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 15 - Good Bye
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 15 - Good Bye
Watch the crew of the Farley Mowat capture footage of illegal fishing activity with a night vision drone and pull up a totoaba net in the dead of night. This is the final vlog of Operation Milagro II!
Sea Shepherd's Ethical Research Whale Project
Sea Shepherd's Ethical Research Whale Project
Sea Shepherd's Ethical Research Whale Project is dedicated to collect samples from whales in the Gulf of California to measure levels of toxins in whales in order to determine the levels of toxins in the Gulf of California itself. Learn more at: www.seashepherd.org
Totoaba Poachers Caught on Camera
Totoaba Poachers Caught on Camera
Never before seen footage. Sea Shepherd catches critically endangered totoaba poacher in the act. The Sea Shepherd crew filmed these totoaba poachers as they were checking one of their illegal nets in the protected vaquita habitat. The vaquita porpoise is the most endangered marine mammal in the wor...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 14 - Saving Lives
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 14 - Saving Lives
Watch‬ the routine of our crew doing valuable work in the ‪Sea of Cortez‬. We have been very effective at removing illegal fishing gear from the ‪‎vaquita‬ porpoise's habitat. So much so, that now, most of the time we remove nets and lines that are mostly empty, our favorite thing to do....
Sea Shepherd finds 3 dead vaquitas in 3 weeks
Sea Shepherd finds 3 dead vaquitas in 3 weeks
The Sea Shepherd crew has found 3 dead vaquitas in 3 weeks in the month of march of 2016. The vaquita porpoise is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. Learn more at: www.seashepherd.org/milagro2
Sea Shepherds finds a dead sample of the most endangered marine mammal in the world
Sea Shepherds finds a dead sample of the most endangered marine mammal in the world
While patrolling the waters of the upper Gulf of California the Sea Shepherd crew found a dead vaquita porpoise. The vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the whole world. The crew also found a Great White Shark caught in an illegal gillnet.
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 12 - This is Direct Action
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 12 - This is Direct Action
This week, the crew of ‪Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ships The M/V Farley Mowat and The RV Martin Sheen find and retrieve an illegal totoaba bass long line from the critically endangered ‪vaquita porpoise habitat. The totoaba fish is also critically endangered. Watch all episodes at: http...
Sea Shepherd Crew Save Humpback Whale Entangled in Illegal Gillnet
Sea Shepherd Crew Save Humpback Whale Entangled in Illegal Gillnet
Sea Shepherd crew rescued a whale entangled in an illegal totoaba gillnet in the Gulf of California. Sea Shepherd currently has two vessels in Mexico's Gulf of California on OPERATION MILAGRO. Our goal is to save the vaquita porpoises, the most endangered marine mammal. The vaquita are caught as a r...
Gregg Lowe on Sea Shepherd's Operation Milagro
Gregg Lowe on Sea Shepherd's Operation Milagro
You might know Gregg Lowe from X-Men: Days of Future Past, but now watch him explain Sea Shepherd's Operation Milagro and understand why we must save the #VaquitaMarina - The most endangered cetacean in the world. Help us save the vaquita at: http://seashepherd.org/milagro2/donate-now/vaquita-appeal...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 11 - Big Fish
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 11 - Big Fish
This week the crew of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ships The Farley Mowat and The Martin Sheen find and retrieve an illegal totoaba bass net from the critically endangered vaquita marina's habitat Watch all episodes at: http://www.seashepherd.org/milagro2/multimedia/videos.html ‪#‎OpMilag...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 10 - Light up the Dark
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 10 - Light up the Dark
Actor Gregg Lowe crews with Sea Shepherd to help us protect the vaquita. The M/V Farley Mowat lights up the vaquita refuge and deters poacher from laying deadly nets in the vaquita marina's habitat. Watch all episodes at: http://seashepherd.org/milagro2/multimedia
Sea Shepherd Wildlife - False Killer Whales
Sea Shepherd Wildlife - False Killer Whales
The first video of our new series "Sea Shepherd Wildlife". This episode is about one of the lesser know large dolphins - The False Killer Whales. Learn more about these beautiful creatures with the Sea Shepherd crew. Share it with your friends. Video by Carolina A. Castro Narration by Nicole D'Entr...
Sea Shepherd Removes gillnet from Endangered Vaquita Habitat
Sea Shepherd Removes gillnet from Endangered Vaquita Habitat
Sea Shepherd Removes gillnet from Endangered Vaquita Habitat.
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 05 - Gillnet Damage
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 05 - Gillnet Damage
Join the crew of the R/V Martin Sheen as they witness the damage a gillnet can cause to marine wildlife while patrolling the endangered vaquita's refuge in Mexico.