Nursing seal pup with mother, NamibiaNursing seal pup with mother, NamibiaAfter the brutal clubbing of 23 fur seals at the Kaikoura colony in New Zealand’s South Island, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society offered a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

In the 2010 incident, two people viciously slaughtered eight seal pups, two bulls and thirteen females. Sea Shepherd has now awarded NZ$11,500 (10,236.38 Australian dollars and 9,580.94 US dollars) to an individual, who wishes to remain anonymous, after information which they provided led to the conviction of the two individuals responsible for this act of unthinkable violence. The reward provided by Sea Shepherd to the brave individual who stepped forward represents NZ$500 for each of the 23 lives taken.

This is the first time that a reward has been paid out under Sea Shepherd’s rewards program helping to bring those who harm marine wildlife to justice.

Seals were nearly wiped out in New Zealand in the early 1800’s due to years of hunting, and have been given full protection by the NZ government since 1849. Under the country’s Marine Mammals Protection Act of 1978, there are penalties of up to six months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to NZ$250,000 for killing or harming fur seals or other marine mammals, plus a fine of up to NZ$10,000 for each marine mammal harmed or killed.

The second individual responsible for the violent deaths of these 23 seals was recently convicted, receiving a sentence of 8 months of home detention and 200 hours of community service. There has been concern expressed by the media and the public over the leniency of this sentence, and we agree that the punishment does not quite fit the severity of this heinous crime.

However, Sea Shepherd is happy to see that members of the public are willing to take action against acts of violence toward marine wildlife, and that this cruel act was not committed without penalty from the justice system of New Zealand. It is not easy to put yourself at risk by stepping forward with information like this, but we encourage anyone who has information that could help bring cruel killers of ocean animals to come to us with that information. We humans are the only voices that they have in the courtrooms.

“While it is impossible to place a price on the lives of these 23 seals who were killed so brutally, Sea Shepherd has awarded NZ$11,500 to the brave individual who risked their own safety to bring these seal killers to justice,” said Sea Shepherd USA Administrative Director Susan Hartland. “We hope that this act, along with the two convictions, will serve as warnings to those who would harm ocean wildlife that the public cares about these animals and are willing to speak up to protect them.”

To learn more about Sea Shepherd’s rewards program, please visit  http://www.seashepherd.org/get-involved/rewards.html. To report on any of the listings, please email Sea Shepherd at  rewards@seashepherd.org or call us at 212-220-2302 (unless otherwise noted in the reward listing). If you wish to remain anonymous and forego the reward, we would be very grateful for the information and would honor your anonymity. In order to qualify for any Sea Shepherd reward, the information you provide must directly lead to the apprehension and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the crime and the case you have information about must still be open with the appropriate authorities. Law enforcement officers (and those privy to this information by way of their occupation) are not eligible for Sea Shepherd rewards.

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