For years, Sea Shepherd's President and Founder Captain Paul Watson has been condemning the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans as the most incompetent government agency in the history of Canada.

This gross incompetence led to the total collapse of the East Coast cod fishery and the disastrous state of the Pacific salmon fishery. And, of course, the Canadian government's mismanagement of the annual seal slaughter is the hallmark of this department's incompetence

For a decade we have been hearing Canadian government officials including the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans declare that harp seal numbers have been increasing and that the incredibly high kill quotas of over 335,000 seals each year have been justified because of the "large" seal populations.

For years we have been saying that the harp seal population numbers have been exaggerated by DFO and that the kill quotas were unacceptably high and did not take into account the mortality to seals caused by melting ice due to global warming and reduced food supplies due to overfishing.

Finally, this year, Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn is talking about lowering the quotas. The reason is that they have just discovered that the seal populations are decreasing, not increasing.

No final decision on how large a cut, if any, has been made. But Hearn said he will know more when he meets with department staff in the next week to 10 days.

"Our people have been having consultations with people directly involved in the hunt," Hearn said. "There was some concern this year that the biomass, generally, is down a little bit. I don't have the final figures on that. But we will be meeting on that to assess any changes that have been made."

Last year, the federal government set the quota for harp seals at 335,000 animals, including a one-time allowable catch for Aboriginal Peoples of 10,000 seals.

Recent government reports are indicating decreased numbers of young seals due to the high level of catches as well as the high mortality rates of newborn seals as a result of a lack of ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence over the last two or three years.

Sounds familiar. Sea Shepherd has been saying the exact thing for years and the taxpayers did not have to pay for the studies.

To Hearn and his bureaucrats, seals are simply biomass. When he states the numbers are down a little bit, he is speaking to the sealers who vote for him in Newfoundland. Hearn telling the truth about the numbers might alarm the sealers into thinking Hearn is being overly sympathetic to the seals.

Hearn is trying to perform a political balancing act. He has to acknowledge the science that is pointing to decrease in the number of harp seals and at the same time give the impression that there are lots of seals. Hearn is also loathe to allow science to dictate the management of seals, preferring to steer the topic to economics as a justification for lowering quotas.

According to the Canadian press Hearn said, ""We do have an awful lot of seals, but, at the same time, you may be playing with the markets. Sometimes having more product means lower price," he said. "We're doing very well in the marketplace right now and we don't want to destroy that, so we'll try to combine all of this and try and make a sensible decision."

Of course, DFO has not made a sensible decision on anything for decades.

Frank Pinhead, managing director of the Canadian Sealers Association, said sealers are expecting a cut, albeit a slight one.

"Sealers don't want the seals to go the way of the cod," said Pinhead, who was among the group to recently meet with department officials to discuss the hunt. "They don't support over harvesting. Now the question is, [is] there a need to cut back right now?"

No Pinhead, you will probably prefer to wait until the species crashes like you did with the cod. The position appears to be cutbacks if necessary but not necessarily cutbacks. And like Hearn, Pinhead does not see seals. He sees biomass, stocks, and product.

"We can't go taking out more seals than the herd can withstand," Pinhead said. "We have to make sure that there's a certain number of seals going into the biomass for the future."

The reference to seals as "harvestable biomass" and "product" is indicative of how totally alienated these bureaucrats are about marine ecological systems. Seal populations are already less than 10% of their original numbers prior to commercial exploitation. Like the cod they will keep killing until the percentage is lowered to 4% . The Northern cod populations crashed in 1992 and are not expected to recover. This may be the same fate for the harp seals because of the ecological ignorance of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.


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
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Entanglement in the South
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Good and Bad Days
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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
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Illegal Totoaba Nets
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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
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The Grind of the Faroe Islands
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.