|Saturday, April 01, 2006|
Captain Watson Corrects Attorney Averill Baker's Knowledge of Sealing
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Perhaps Averill Baker's experience in practicing law in St. John's allows her to submit inaccurate evidence on behalf of her defendants. This shoddy disregard for the facts does not fly well off "the rock."
Attorney Averill Baker's editorial in The Express contains a great deal of inaccurate and misleading information and does not do her credit as a lawyer.
Baker suggests that the whitecoat and blueback pelts come from Europe, Asia, and the United States.
She is wrong on two counts. Whitecoat and blueback pelts do come from Norway. None of these pelts are obtained from the United States or Asia. Norway does have a whitecoat hunt. Norway also has hundreds of thousands of whitecoat pelts from Canada in the Reiber Company warehouse in Bergen, Norway. Russia does kill baby Caspian Sea seals, not harp seals or hood seals.
Greenland sealers do not kill whitecoats or bluebacks. In fact, they don't hunt baby seals at all, and recently Greenland banned Canadian seal pelts because they did not want their seal products to be associated with the mass slaughter of baby harp seals in Canada.
It is not legal to sell seal products in the United States except from a very small number of seals taken by Aleut and Inuit sealers in Alaska. The commercial trade in seal products is banned by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. None of the seals killed by aboriginal hunters in U.S. territory is a baby seal. They are adult male Pribilof fur seals. None are harp or hood seals - these species are not found in Alaska.
Baker, by the way, describes it as the Marine Mammal Protection regulations of Alaska. This is inaccurate. It is a Federal Act. It is designed to protect seals from harassment and it does indeed prevent people coming closer than 100 feet of a seal. However, there is no exemption for sealers because there are no commercial sealers in the United States. Permits can be obtained for closer observation.
Baker states that it is illegal to film the seal hunts in Europe and the United States. She is right about the Norwegian hunt, but she is wrong about the U.S. aboriginal hunts. I have had a crew in the Aleutians documenting the hunt of adult Pribilof fur seals. We did not require a permit.
Baker laments that seal defenders are picking on Newfoundland alone. This is not the case. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been involved in opposing sealing in the Caspian sea by the Russians (which was documented without anyone being arrested), in Namibia (which is documented annually without anyone being arrested), in Norway (where Odd Lindberg was arrested for documenting the seal slaughter), and in Great Britain (where Sea Shepherd documented and shut down hunts at the Farne Isles, the Orkneys, and the Irish Sea).
Newfoundland is not being singled out although the Canadian slaughter receives the most attention because of the massive quotas and because it is the most brutal of the world's seal hunts.
Canada has restrictive laws that do not allow documentation of the killing of seals without a permit which is difficult and expensive to obtain. My crew and I have been arrested numerous times for documenting the killing of seals.
Cameras get into abattoirs all the time and documentation of cruelty in slaughter houses is quite routine. Cameras have recorded hundreds of cases of cruelty to seals on the ice without any consequences to the sealers whereas documentation in slaughter houses usually results in penalties.
Sea Shepherd opposes the slaughter of seals in Canada because it is ecologically unsound, it is cruel, and it is a wasteful. There are alternatives. The international protests against the slaughter of seals in Canada are not going away. On the contrary, the movement is gaining momentum and is growing stronger.
2006 has been the best year yet for motivating international outrage against the slaughter of seals and we predict that 2007 will be even more controversial. Pride is a factor in the continued support of the hunt in Canada but pride has a price. Governments will ultimately listen to economics and the cost of supporting the seal slaughter will soon grow prohibitively expensive.
Already a welfare project, the slaughter promises to be the most expensive welfare scheme in the world.
It will be abolished.
Captain Paul Watson is the Founder and President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Column by Avril Baker in The ExpressAverill Baker