The Canadian government is entrenched with the position that harp seals must die. They do not intend to give an inch. Having caused the widespread disenchantment in Newfoundland because of incompetent mismanagement of the fisheries, they have chosen the seals as their scapegoats. This is the same kind of political scapegoating that the Nazi's exploited the Jews for. The only difference is that the massive cruel slaughter of seals does not involve the murder of human beings. However, the principle is the same.
Sea Shepherd has been opposing the seal slaughter since the day we were established in 1977. It has been a thirty year struggle. The commercial slaughter was shut down n 1984 but was revived again in 1994, two years after the collapse of the North Atlantic cod fishery.
What the Federal government of Canada has managed to do is to deflect criticism from Newfoundlanders away from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and redirect it towards the seals - blaming the seals for the decline in the cod and offering a temporary economic solution of a mass slaughter of seals to provide for a market created through the efforts of massive tax-funded promotional schemes.
The annual slaughter of seals is the largest mass killing of a marine mammal population in the world. It is a ruthless, merciless enterprise that has scarred the image of Canada around the world.
Last year, when someone from the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles said that the effort to protect the seals was a losing cause, Sea Shepherd Advisory Board Member Martin Sheen responded by saying, "Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for."
What can Sea Shepherd do?
We cannot get a ship into the ice. Both of our ships are on the far side of the world having just returned from Antarctica to Australia. Even if we left the day we got back from the whale defense campaign, we could not have made it to the seal slaughter in time.
Captain Paul Watson has been ordered by the government of Canada to not go anywhere near the East Coast of Canada for two years or else he will be arrested and incarcerated until the killing is over. Canada is also working on extending the exclusion zone making it a crime to approach within a mile of a seal being killed. In Canada it is illegal to witness or document the killing of a seal. High tech cameras can still capture the gruesome images from a half a mile away so the new regulations are meant to make the documentation even harder.
If Sea Shepherd sends a ship in, it will be seized by the Canadian Navy. If Captain Watson leads a crew to the ice, he will be arrested before he can reach the ice.
Sea Shepherd is fighting these measures in court. We have retained one of the best attorneys in the province of Prince Edward Island to challenge the regulations as a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are also appealing the convictions of Captain Watson and eleven of his crew for breaking the so-called Seal Protection regulations by approaching a sealer in the process of killing a seal in the spring of 2005.
We are working in cooperation with the Humane Society of the United States, Harpseals.org, and with numerous other international organizations working to end the slaughter. Captain Watson is a director of Harpseals.org, an organization established for the specific objective of abolishing the Canadian seal slaughter. Harpseals.org is leading a large protest against Canada's seal slaughter in Los Angeles today. We are also working with members of the European Parliament to have all seal products banned from import into Europe. We are in the process of mounting a high profile media ad campaign to oppose the slaughter and promote the boycott of Canadian seafood. We continue to target Red Lobster as a major corporation that supports the seal slaughter. We continue to boycott Costco for selling seal oil capsules in their Canadian stores. We are organizing a "monumental" protest on March 15 at Canada's Parliament buildings in Ottawa led by Canadian Sea Shepherd activist Steve Thompson.
Canada may be able to physically stop us from going to the ice this year but they cannot stop our ongoing efforts to abolish the world's most cruel and massive marine mammal slaughter.
The movement to end sealing is growing, and more and more people around the world are becoming enraged by Canada's support and subsidization of cruelty and slaughter. Our job is to keep the movement strong with new strategies and new ideas.
Additionally, Sea Shepherd is working with Francois Hugo and Seal Alert in South Africa to oppose the horrific annual slaughter of South African fur seal pups in Namibia.
Sea Shepherd was the first organization to send a ship to oppose the sealers in 1979 and the last organization to do so in 2005. Captain Watson has been fighting the seal slaughter since 1968. We have had victories, for example in 1983 when our blockade of sealing ships prevented the slaughter of 76,000 seals and the decision in 1984 by Europe to ban baby seal pelts. We have created alternatives to the "hunt" such as our idea for a cruelty-free non-lethal form of sealing where the naturally-molted hairs of the seals can be gently brushed from the seal pups and can used in the same manner as eider down
because the hollow transparent hairs share the same
insulating qualities as the eider duck feathers.
Sea Shepherd also encourages ideas and strategies from members concerned about the slaughter. Individuals can make a difference! Steve Thompson, for example, has taken it upon himself to organize and lead the March 15th Ottawa protest.
Sea Shepherd is currently tackling shark finners and fish poachers in the Galapagos, Japanese whalers in the Southern Oceans, working on plans to counter illegal Icelandic and Norwegian whalers, and addressing the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, fur seals in Africa, and illegal longlining worldwide. With the oceans of the world under increasing assault by outlaw activities plundering life in the seas, the tasks before us are daunting and formidable. We will continue to do what we can with the resources available to us, and as our support increases, so too will our ability to intervene.