"Canadian Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn is weaving a very tangled web with his attempts to deceive the Canadian people," said Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson. "First he says that the Coast Guard did not ram the Sea Shepherd, they only "grazed" us twice and now he's saying that it was the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat that was at fault by deliberately placing itself in the path of the ice-breaker Des Groseilliers. The problem with this latest spin by DFO is that the Coast Guard vessel is faster and more maneuverable in the ice and the Farley Mowat was stopped the second time it happened and the entire incident was captured on video by a cameraman onboard the Farley Mowat."
Yesterday the government grounded the Humane Society of the United States helicopter that was going to pick up the video.
"That was convenient," said Sea Shepherd Communications officer Shannon Mann 35, from Calgary, Alberta who is on board the Farley Mowat.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has broken no laws. The ship is a non-Canadian registered yacht engaged in a non-commercial activity outside the 12 mile limit. Canada has no right to interfere with the free passage of this ship in these waters.
"If the government really believed that the Farley Mowat was at fault for the collision then the Sea Shepherd ship would have been ordered arrested or detained," said Captain Watson.
According to Canadian media reports Fisheries and Oceans Minister Loyola Hearn said the allegations are "completely untrue" and accused the Farley Mowat crew of "attempting to provoke a confrontation" with the Coast Guard ship.
"The Farley Mowat maneuvered itself in front of the Coast Guard vessel Des Groseilliers to cause a collision between the two vessels," Hearn said in a statement.
He said such tactics "jeopardize the safety and security of people involved in the annual seal hunt" and he called on the Farley Mowat crew to "remove themselves from the area" and "not attack Coast Guard vessels while they protect our sealers."
Dutch Captain Alex Cornelissen on board the Farley Mowat was astounded to hear that he "attacked" the Canadian Coast Guard. "I don't think the public is going to buy this latest suggestion that it is Sea Shepherd that killed the four sealers this week-end. It's incredible the lengths Hearn is going to cover up the incompetence of his government. As for protecting his sealers, he has already proven that the Coast Guard is incapable of that."
Yesterday the Des Groseilliers refused a distress call from a sealing vessel. They refused to leave the Farley Mowat demonstrating that it is their priority to monitor the activities of Sea Shepherd.
"Keeping the horrific images of cruel slaughter from the eyes of the European public is now the priority for the Coast Guard and saving lives is secondary," said Captain Watson.
Fisheries and Oceans Department spokesman Phil Jenkins also told the Canadian Press that, "It's despicable that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society would use the death of Canadian sealers to try and advance its campaign of misinformation against the seal hunt. This is really a new low and it's extremely distasteful."
Captain Watson countered that accusation by saying, "We did not kill those men. Government incompetence was responsible and as a former Canadian Coast Guardsman myself I am appalled at the fact that the tow was not being monitored and they allowed crewmembers to sleep below while the vessel was being towed through heavy ice. If stating these facts is distasteful all I can say is that the government's actions have left a very bad taste in the mouths of all Canadians."
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has a video of the ramming of the Farley Mowat by the Canadian Coast Guard and is attempting to get the video to shore to counter the propaganda of Mr. Hearn and his tendency to shoot media releases from the hip without thinking first.
"I know that Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day believes dinosaurs are extinct because they could not get on Noah's Ark," said Captain Paul Watson. "But even Mr. Hearn must know of an invention called a video camera. After all that is the weapon that he is trying to suppress with his draconian regulations banning the documentation of the slaughter."
The Farley Mowat remains in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with an international crew of volunteers trying to observe and document the slaughter of the seals.