The crews from over a dozen sealing ships have been removed from their damaged vessels by the Canadian Coast Guard. In total, nearly one hundred small sealing vessels remain trapped in rafting ice that northeast winds have shoved up against the coast of Newfoundland. The pressure on the ice is not expected to lift for another week.
"This is fantastic news," said Sea Shepherd Founder and President Captain Paul Watson. "This is nature's revenge on the armada of seal killing vessels. Like the Spanish Armada, the fleet is being shattered and damaged, and most importantly, they are not able to kill seals."
The Canadian taxpayer is footing the bill for the massive assistance the Canadian Coast Guard is providing for the sealing fleet. Two Coast Guard icebreakers, the Ann Harvey and the Sir Wilfred Grenfell are trapped in the ice along with the sealing vessels. Coast Guard helicopters are flying food and fuel to the stranded crews on the ice.
So far, no sealers have been injured or have been killed, but the damage to sealing vessels is extensive.
Opponents of the seal slaughter from around the world are following the drama on the ice with excited enthusiasm. Sea Shepherd has received many messages from people who are overjoyed to see that nature has intervened to stop the brutal and obscene massacre of seal pups on the ice floes off Eastern Canada.
It has been a very strange year so far. Ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence were so diminished that over 250,000 seal pups drowned. Despite this, Canada set a kill quota of 275,000 pups. Now, on the Labrador Front area on the other side of the province of Newfoundland, the ice conditions are the worse they have been in decades.
"I've been in that situation before," said Captain Watson. "Back in 1983, we were locked in the grip of pressured ice for 10 days. Absolutely nothing can be done to escape it until the wind shifts and relieves the pressure on the ice. We were in a large ice-strengthened vessel of 650 tons and the ice lifted us out of the water and we lay at an angle on top of the ice for days. It is easy to see how these small longliners are being damaged."
The more damage sustained by these vessels, the greater the increase in operating costs for the sealers and the higher the insurance premiums for next year. Without government subsidies, this cruel and wasteful mass slaughter of seal pups could not survive.
"It's a glorified welfare project," said Sea Shepherd Captain Alex Cornelissen. "These sealers live on hand-outs from the government and they just simply don't have the initiative to get an education and to find an alternative job. The government finds them markets for their obscene products, the government breaks the ice for them to kill the seals, the government intervenes to prevent protestors from documenting the slaughter, and the government rescues them when they get in trouble. They are like little boys torturing animals with encouragement from their parents. With continued government hand-outs they have little motivation to get a real job and to make a decent living."
The sealing vessels are expected to remain trapped in the ice until at least after the weekend and many more vessels are expected to be damaged and possibly sunk by the enormous ice pressure.
Click here for the latest Canadian television update from the ice.