The Sea Shepherd crew onboard the Farley Mowat documented scenes of excessive brutality this morning as they moved through the ice some 35 miles north of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Sea Shepherd crew observed seals being shot and wounded and thrashing about in agony on the surface of the ocean.
The priorities of the Canadian Coast Guard seem to be in harassing the crew of the Farley Mowat and trying to prevent documentation of the inhumane slaughter of seals.
Two coast guard vessels shadowed the Farley Mowat all morning. The Coast Guard vessel CCGS Des Groseilliers ordered the Farley Mowat to leave Canadian waters and to not approach any sealing operation stating that a permit is required from the Canadian government to observe the seals being slaughtered.
The Farley Mowat responded by saying; "permits. We don't need no stinkin' permits."
The Canadian government has no authority over a foreign registered ship traveling outside the Canadian twelve mile limit. The Farley Mowat is a Dutch ship with a Dutch Captain and a crew from the Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden, France, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and South Africa. The crew of the Farley Mowat believe the Canadian Coast Guard should be concentrating on search and rescue operations instead of censoring observation of the slaughter of seals.
Canadian Coast Guard incompetence has already led to the death of four sealers. Yesterday four men from the Magdalene Islands died when their 12 meter aluminum hulled boat the L'Acadien II capsized while being towed through heavy ice by the Coast Guard icebreaker Sir William Alexander. Bruno-Pierre Bourque one of the two survivors of the L'Acadien II, blamed the tragedy on excessive speed and lack of attention by the Coast Guard.
Canadian Coast Guard spokesperson Mike Voigt defended the Coast Guard saying there are no regulations for towing in the ice and the Coast Guard has little experience in towing vessels through the ice.
"This is incredible," said Captain Paul Watson, himself a former member of the Canadian Coast Guard. "The government of Canada allows hundreds of small non-ice class vessels to navigate in the most hostile waters on earth in heavy ice and they then say they have no contingency plans to deal with rescuing these same vessels. Perhaps if they spent less time making plans to prevent the documentation of the seal slaughter and more time being concerned about protecting human lives, these men would not have died."
The following are eye-witness accounts from crewmembers onboard the Farley Mowat. The very witnessing of these events is considered illegal by the Canadian government.
We encountered the sealing vessel the Cathy Erlene, registered to Sydney NS. Upon approach we saw two small aluminum boats carrying two men each darting from ice floe to ice floe searching for baby seals.