|Monday, July 14, 2003|
10 Questions and Answers on the 2010 Winter Olympics Boycott to stop the Canadian Seal Hunt
Q#1: Why choose the 2010 Winter Olympics? What connection is there with the Olympics and the slaughter of seals?
A: The connection is that the 2010 Winter Olympics is an international event hosted by Canada and this provides an opportunity to focus international attention on the slaughter of seals on the Canadian East Coast, and the proposed slaughter of seals and seal lions in British Columbia. The call for the boycott has already been successful. The story was run both nationally in Canada and internationally. Footage of the clubbing of seals was aired on Canadian, Australian, American, and European television.
In our world, where we are in the midst of the largest extinction of species in over 65 million years, people's priorities continue to be defined by social circuses. The Olympics is the largest circus of all. It makes sense to utilize an international circus to focus attention on issues far more important than sports.
Q#2: Will the boycott be effective?
A: Back in 1986, a boycott was called for the World's Fair held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The event was called Expo 86. The protest was called because of the government of British Columbia's policy of shooting wolves from helicopters. In response to the international protest and bad publicity, the British Columbian government cancelled the wolf hunt.
Q#3: The Olympics are to be held on the West coast of Canada. What has this got to do with the East coast seal hunt?
A: Canada is hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics and Canada is also responsible for the escalated quotas for seals on the East Coast. Additionally there are plans to have a commercial slaughter of harbor seals and sea lions on the coast of British Columbia. The seals are being killed on both coasts. Every year, salmon farmers slaughter hundreds of seals and sea lions to protect the exotic predators they have introduced into the Pacific eco-system. Seals and sea lions belong on the coast of British Columbia and Atlantic salmon do not.
Q#4: Newfoundlanders are quick to respond to the seal protests with the accusation that Sea Shepherd does not protect other species like fish. "Where were you when the cod were being over-fished?" is the common complaint. Where was Sea Shepherd?
A: This is one of the most amusing accusations against us because it reveals how people and the media pass judgment without research.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was warning both Canada and Newfoundland about the excessive over-fishing and the consequences if it was not brought under control. This was back in the earl 80's. In 1992, Captain Paul Watson brought his concerns about the cod to the United Nations Conference on the Environment in Brazil where he was told by Newfoundland Premier Frank Well's to mind his own business.
In 1993, Captain Watson took our ship the Cleveland Amory to the Nose and the Tail of the Grand Banks where they obstructed and chased Cuban and Spanish drag trawlers from the area. In response, Captain Watson was arrested and charged with Mischief by the Canadian government for interfering with foreign drag trawl operations. He was put on trial in 1995 and he was acquitted despite the Canadian and Newfoundland government's spending over three million dollars in their attempts to convict him.
Since then, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has developed a plan to drop "net-rippers" on the bank to discourage destructive bottom trawling.
In fact the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society actually has more projects involving fish conservation than seal conservation. The accusation that we don't do anything to protect fish is bogus.
Q#5: Member of Parliament, John Efford, has said to the media that the story of "head hockey" is a lie and a fabrication by Sea Shepherd to libel the sealers of Newfoundland? What is "head hockey" and what evidence do you have that this takes place?
A: On page 74 of the book "Over the Side Mickey" - a sealer's first hand account of the Newfoundland seal hunt by Michael J. Dwyer, "head hockey" is described in graphic detail. Below is an excerpt from the book.
"I had heard the anti-sealing protesters say that sealers were barbarians. They were right. You have to be a barbarian to survive it!"
"How barbaric one became depended on how long one was subjected to it. Once, after only a short time into play "head-ball".
"It was like hockey but instead of using sticks, we used our hakipiks to try to shoot the head between two twitching carcasses we used as goal posts. We all took turns in the net. By the time the game was over, eyeballs, teeth, fragments of skull bone and lower jawbones were scattered all over the rink. Darrell won but we all had a great bit of fun."
Michael J. Dwyer, "From Over the Side Mickey"
Q#6: The Canadian media is portraying the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as an American group forcing their attitudes onto Canadians. Is this true?
A: No, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an international group with global representation, including Canada. In fact the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia in August 1977 by a Canadian - Captain Paul Watson. Watson was raised in a fishing village in the Maritimes and comes from a family whose roots go back to the early 1700's in the Maritimes. Captain Watson has spent a great deal of time in Newfoundland and he has been fighting the Newfoundland seal hunt since 1975. In fact, Captain Watson has logged more ice and sea time with the seals than most Newfoundland sealers.
The history of the opposition against the seal hunt is as Canadian as the hunt itself. Brian Davies, the founder of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and one of the first and most consistent opponents of the seal slaughter is also from New Brunswick. The Canadian spokesperson for the IFAW today is Rebecca Aldworth and she is a Newfoundlander born and raised. Farley Mowat, one of Canada's most famous writers and a man who has lived for years in Newfoundland, and now in Cape Breton, is an ardent opponent of the seal slaughter. Farley Mowat is the International Chair of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Canadians who oppose the seal kill are not anti-Canadian. They are in fact standing up for Canada's honour in opposing a bloody cruel horrific needless slaughter that brings nothing but shame to Canada.
Q#7: Canadian and Newfoundland politicians are saying that the harps seals must be killed to conserve the dwindling populations of cod. Is this true?
We can't blame the seals for the decline of the cod. If the cod are to come back, the answer is to increase the seal population - not decrease it. The primary predators of cod are other fish, the very fish that seals target. When you decrease seal populations, you increase predatory fish populations and therefore cause a further diminishment of cod. Isn't it strange that in 1500 there was an abundance of cod and there were some forty million seals on the East coast? Forty million seals and the fish were so plentiful. Explorer Jacques Cartier caught them in a basket thrown over the side. It was the greed of the dragger owners that destroyed the cod coupled with the incompetence of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The seals are merely scapegoats for greed and incompetence.
The harp, hood, and grey seals have never been and are not a threat to the survival of the cod. The cod populations were destroyed by human greed and incompetence.
Q#8: But Canadian government scientists say otherwise. They are the experts, aren't they?
There are scientists and there are scientific whores. Captain Paul Watson has long had a name for the marine biologists who work for the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. He calls them biostitutes. They are paid by the Canadian government and they are paid to provide scientific justification for political policies. Because of these so called experts, fish species populations have crashed on both the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts. They have a proven record of incompetence.
In 1995, Captain Watson was debating a DFO marine biologist. Captain Watson said that in three years the Coho and the Chinook salmon would crash. The scientist responded by saying, "You are wrong Watson, you have absolutely no idea of what you are talking about. We have the best scientists in the world working on this and I can tell you that they know what they are doing and you do not. You are wrong, wrong, wrong Sir."
And Captain Watson was indeed wrong - he was too optimistic The Chinook and Coho population crashed within one year.
Q#9: Member of Parliament John Efford also told the media that not one seal was clubbed by a Newfoundlander this year. The club is no longer used and seal are now shot instead. Is this true?
A: Again, John Efford knows very little about what actually goes on out on the ice. This year, Newfoundland sealers were observed, photographed and filmed clubbing seals to death. These photos are available upon request.
And who is this John Efford by the way?
John Efford is a Newfoundland Member of Parliament who was a former Newfoundland Minister of Fisheries. He has used the seals as scapegoats to rise to power just as Hitler used the Jews. In fact it is a good comparison when you look at this direct quote from Efford:
On May 4, 1998, as recorded in Hansard, the transcript of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, Efford had delivered the following address:
"Mr. Speaker, I would like to see the 6 million seals, or what ever number is out there, killed and sold, or destroyed or burned. I do not care what happens to them. The fact is that the markets are not there to sell more seals; 286,000 were hunted and sold. If there was a market for more seals the commercial sealers would be hunting and selling seals. The special allowance was for the personal use of sealers, that they could take six seals for their personal use. What do they do with the pelts, Mr. Speaker, is up to them. They cannot sell them because the markets are not there. What they wanted was to have the right to go out and kill the seals. They have that right, and the more they kill the better I will love it."
Captain Paul Watson compared Efford to Goebbels in the Newfoundland media, and this comparison to the Nazi propaganda minister was met with a flurry of outraged Newfoundland editorials attacking him for calling Efford a Nazi. How could Watson dare to compare the slaughter of seals to the slaughter of Jews, they demanded.
Captain Watson responded that it was merely the same language and that it was ironic that Efford was calling for a "final solution" by killing "six million" seals. These were his words and not the words of Captain Watson.
Furthermore, Goebbels is famous for saying that if you tell a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it is the truth. This is exactly how Efford operates.
Efford further displayed his ignorance at Dalhousie University when asked why he did not call for the extermination of sharks for eating codfish. He answered that there were no sharks in Newfoundland waters, and this to an audience of astounded marine scientists who knew very well that white and Greenland sharks feed on seals and cod and are caught by Newfoundland fishermen.
And as if Efford's ignorance had no limits, he came up with the ridiculous idea to kill two million seals to feed refugees in Kosovo. A spokesperson for the refugees asked, "Was he serious?" When told that he was very serious, the spokesperson politely replied, "Thanks, but no thanks."
Conservation groups were not so polite. He was laughingly dismissed as an "idiot".
This did not faze Efford. "If saving people's lives by providing high protein value meat is being an idiot, then I guess that's what I am," he replied. It was the one thing that John Efford and Sea Shepherd agree upon.
Q#10: How will this boycott work?
A: Many organizations are in opposition to the seal slaughter. Among them are the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Fund for Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, and numerous other groups. The Humane Society of the United States is already running full page ads in the New York Times calling for a boycott of Canada.
Sea Shepherd has already received donations of ad space from international magazines and we have conducted numerous international interviews. Every time we show the images of the seals being brutally clubbed, we score a public relations victory.
We have nearly seven years to organize and work this boycott. We will be developing ideas for billboards at border points and at international airports. We will be looking at an ad campaign that depicts the killing of seals as a sporting event. For example seal shooting, seal clubbing, skinning seals alive, and the notorious practice of "head hockey".
Our objective is to peg the shame of the seal hunt to the prestige of the Olympic games to deliver a clear message - that Canada does not deserve to host the Olympics until it puts an end to the largest slaughter of a marine mammal species on this planet. Until then we will see the red of the Canadian flag as blood and the white representing the innocence of the seals so brutalized and slaughtered by at the savage hands of Canadian sealers.