The news from Newfoundland and the Labrador Front just gets better and better. Last week, a sealing vessel burnt and sank in Newfoundland, and this week, more than 100 sealing boats are trapped in heavy ice off the Northeast coast of Newfoundland. Some 500 to 600 sealers are stranded on the ice.
"Conditions have deteriorated over the last few days as a result of the wind pressing the ice floes into the land," Canadian Coast Guard Captain Windross Banton told CBC television from an icebreaker trying to make its way to the stranded vessels, which included one from the Coast Guard.
The Sir Wilfred Grenfell, one of Canada's large icebreakers, is trapped in the heaviest ice pack conditions in 15 years.
Rescue efforts are being hindered by strong Northeast winds, fog, and heavy drizzle preventing Coast Guard aircraft from being used.
Some of the boats have been damaged and a few are in danger of sinking. Some are running out of food and fuel.
Crews have been evacuated from at least 10 of the vessels and 12 of the vessels have already been observed as extensively damaged.
"The sealers, in their lust to kill seals, have ventured irresponsibly into ice conditions they were not prepared for," said Sea Shepherd Founder and President Captain Paul Watson. "The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker led them into a trap, breaking them into ice conditions they would not have been able to enter on their own. I have to say that this news has brought a smile to my face today and a hope that the quota of 275,000 seal pups will not be realized."
According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) about two-thirds of the quota has been reached. This quota does not take into account the estimated 250,000 that were killed by diminished ice conditions last month in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Strong winds are forcing the ice pack against the shore. As the pressure increases, the ice could crush the hulls of the sealing boats.
"Captains and our crews on our icebreakers, same as the staff in the centre are working around the clock, 24 hours a day, and we've been at it now for almost two weeks, and these are very difficult conditions for this year," said Coast Guard superintendent Brain Penney.
"It would be nice to see a few, if not all of these killing boats crushed in the ice," said Captain Watson. "The Canadian Coast Guard is on hand to rescue the seal-killing thugs should they lose their boats. Each year, the Canadian taxpayer has to foot the bill to allow the Coast Guard to baby-sit these baby killers. No expense appears to be too much for Canada to continue to defend this annual obscenity they call a hunt. You don't 'hunt' seal pups. They walk up to them and club them to death in their nurseries. I'm hoping for higher winds and increased ice pressure."
Click here to read the CTV News Story and view the video.