From the icebergs off the coast of Antarctica to the ice floes off the coast of Eastern Canada - there is little rest for the Shepherds of the Sea.

The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin is scheduled to return from chasing and harassing the Japanese whaling fleet on March 15th after three and a half months of successful interventions against the Japanese whale poachers.

But there is no time for rest or sitting on our laurels. We have to get to the other side of the planet to board our ship the Farley Mowat in Bermuda. On March 24th we are scheduled to depart northward into the ice packs of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to once again act as shepherds to the greatest herd of sea lambs on Earth - the harp seal pups.

Canada, as if to slap the Europeans in the face for threatening to ban seal products, has set this year's kill quota at 325,000 seals.

It's hard to believe that this is the 21st Century, when a government of a wealthy nation like Canada continues to promote and encourage the largest and most sadistic marine wildlife massacre on the planet.

Canadian Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn set the high quota without any scientific justification and without any market justification. The Canadian taxpayers will continue to foot the bill to send uneducated sadistic killers onto the ice with spiked clubs to bash in the skulls of seal pups. It is nothing more than a glorified welfare scheme to give East coast fishermen enough work to justify their unemployment insurance payments.

In announcing the new quota Hearn said that the seal slaughter has been improved with new rules to make the hunt more "humane".

The new rules call for the sealers to sever the arteries of seals under their flippers after they have been shot or clubbed.

It's "bash and slash" now instead of just "bash" and that is considered to be an improvement.

To say that this makes the seal slaughter more humane is to say that a psychopath is a better person if he slashes the throat of his victim after bashing in his or her skull.

The new rules are being imposed in an attempt to convince the European Parliament to not ban seal products into Europe. Canada is spending a small fortune in sending delegations to Europe to plea for the right to continue to massacre seal pups.

As a Canadian I am hopeful that the European Parliament will act soon to ban all seal products. All of my life I have been sickened and disgusted by this annual ritual of death where grown men kick seal pups in the face, bash in their skulls, skin them alive and stain the ice floes red with the blood of hundreds of thousands of seal pups, turning the nursery floes of these gentle creatures into a living hell of spewing blood and gore amidst the pitiful screams of dying and injured young animals.

There is no other place on Earth where the arrogance of humankind can be seen in all of its primitive and ignorant glory than on the ice floes under assault by blood-stained men with hearts as hard and merciless as iron.

We have no choice but to challenge them and to do whatever we can to disrupt their vicious rape of the seal nurseries.

As always it will be difficult. The sealers are protected by the Seal Protection Regulations that make it a Federal offense to witness or document a seal pup being killed. In Canada if you see a sealer club a seal pup and you don't have a permit to witness the slaughter you can be arrested, jailed and fined up to $100,000 or sent to jail for a year.

It's hard to believe, but Canada is a nation where killing is a subsidized recreational activity and compassion is severely punished.

We need to demonstrate to the European Parliament just how brutal the Canadian seal hunt is by again going into the ice packs ourselves and placing our lives on the line in defense of the seals.

It is important that we make this issue as hot as possible before the Europeans vote by demonstrating that people of compassion are willing to risks their lives and freedom to abolish this atrocity.

So it's out of the Southern deep freeze and into the Northern freezer, from saving whales to saving seals - the work of a shepherd of the sea is never done.

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