The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced that the opening of the harp seal kill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence will not begin until March 29, 2005. The seal slaughter off the coast of Newfoundland has been set to start on April 12th. Last year the hunt started in the Gulf on March 20th.
DFO has made this move to disrupt plans by conservation and humane organizations to film and photograph the annual kill. Groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) had booked helicopters out of Charlottetown to reach the hunt. They will now have to rebook and reorganize to reach the sealers from another location. The ice floes are moving northward away from the Magdalen Islands.
Captain Paul Watson said, "I believe that the delay in the start of the seal killing has come about because of the increase in protest activity. The government is also trying to spin the hunt as a hunt for adult seals and not pups. This later date will ensure that white-coated seal pups are not killed. However, a four-week old baby seal is not an adult and this still remains a slaughter of harp seal pups."
"Our ship the Farley Mowat is in Liverpool, Nova Scotia," continues Captain Watson. "We have been unable to find facilities to repair our hull breach. We are continuing to research the possibilities of drydocking the ship for a day or finding an underwater welding operation to do the job."
The volunteer crew of the Farley Mowat are now into their fourth week of this campaign to oppose the Canadian seal slaughter.
"It's a good crew," said Captain Watson. "They are all dedicated and working hard to keep this ship up and running. We have been hit hard by the bureaucrats and by the ice but we are still afloat and we continue to oppose the seal slaughter."
The Farley Mowat crew will participate in the International Day of Protest by attending the demonstration in front of the office of the Canadian Minister of Fisheries Geoff Regan in Halifax, Nova Scotia.