|Thursday, March 30, 2006|
Seal Wars! - Report from the Frontlines
The Frontlines of the campaign to abolish the slaughter of seals in Canada is now global. We are now fighting this obscene slaughter on the ice, in the courts, in the media, in Ottawa, and on the streets of dozens of countries around the world. Seal Warriors are musicians, actors, activists, hunger strikers, cartoonists, writers, consumers, chefs, retailers, travel agents, documentarians, pilots, poets, school children, college students, environmentalists, animal rights activists, conservationists, and the person next door. It is a rapidly growing movement against cruelty and ecological degradation.
Canada is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the international public. Few people outside of Canada buy the argument that the slaughter of 325,000 seal pups is necessary or humane.
People are more inclined to believe their own eyes than the lies of politicians. When Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams tells 60 million viewers of the Larry King show that sealers do not kill seals with clubs and the viewers are watching images of sealers clubbing seals as they listen to him, they can see just how blatant these lies can be.
The Canadian media have become so desperate to justify the seal slaughter that they enlisted the hardly impartial right-wing lobbyist group Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) to attack the seal defenders with the bogus claim that the international Boycott of Canadian Seafood is not working.
Apparently, the CCF found a couple of restaurants that had signed onto the list to boycott Canadian fish but appeared to know nothing about it. That's what happens when the dishwasher answers the phone.
For a boycott that "is not working," the Canadian government is spending a great deal of money and effort to refute the effectiveness of the boycott, which tells us that the boycott is in fact being effective.
The government reports did not mention the ban on Canadian seafood by large U.S. retailers such as Trader Joe's, Whole Food Markets, Wild Oats, Marks and Spencer, Legal Seafood, etc...
Canadian Senator George Baker appeared on the CTV Mike Duffy program to claim that "Canada is the only country in the world that allows you to take a camera to the seal hunt to document the killing." This is, of course, not true - seal hunts in the rest of the world are documented and Canada is the only country that requires special permits to film or photograph. It is also the only country that has arrested and convicted people for witnessing and filming the slaughter.
Newfoundland Senator Baker also made the absurd claim that Canada is the only country that has banned the killing of baby seals and further claimed that Americans were killing whitecoated harp seals and blue-backed hood seal pups. Baker was introduced as a vegetarian by Mike Duffy, something that he is not.
Blatant lies. Canada kills baby seals. That is a substantiated and documented fact. The only difference between the seal slaughter today and that of twenty years ago is that the seals killed today are one week older. A baby seal is still a baby seal after losing the whitecoat.
Additionally, the United States does not have a commercial seal hunt. Fur seals are killed by Aleut Indians in the Bering Sea as a subsistence hunt - not whitecoats or bluebacks as Baker claims and not baby seals. There is no U.S. commercial seal hunt.
Baker was not the only Senator to lie about the seal slaughter. Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette debated Captain Paul Watson on the Mike Duffy program a week earlier and claimed that the hunt was for aboriginal people. When Captain Watson corrected her, she said, "Well, the sealers are Canadians." Captain Watson pointed out that he was also a Canadian and it was a lie to continue stating that this hunt is conducted by aboriginal people.
Senator Hervieux Payette also claimed that the hunt was humane. Captain Watson countered by saying that he had seen seal pups kicked in the face and skinned alive. The Senator said this was not possible because the hunt was humane. Captain Watson said, "Have you been on the ice Senator, have you seen the killing of the seals?" The Senator replied that she had not. "Then don't call me a liar, go there yourself, see for yourself and then come back and tell me that I'm lying."
THE GOVERNMENT LIES ARE NOT WORKING
Outside of Canada, the lies are falling on deaf ears. Sir Paul McCartney and Lady Heather Mills McCartney vowed to do everything they can over the next year to shut down the slaughter.
Musician Morrissey has announced he will not do any tours of Canada until the seal slaughter is shut down.
Morrissey released the following statement:
Following on the heels of Brigitte Bardot's media conference in Ottawa, Pamela Anderson has requested a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on April 3rd. The Prime Minister will not be able to dismiss Pamela as he did with Brigitte. Pamela is a Canadian citizen and she has a modern base of fans across Canada. If he meets with her or he does not meet with her, the Canadian media will not ignore her.
In Ottawa, Svetlana Fotinov is in her 3rd day of a hunger strike before the Canadian Parliament Buildings.
Svetlana Fotinov before the Canadian Parliament Buildings
HUNGER STRIKING IN JAIL
In Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a trauma surgeon from Los Angeles is in his 3rd day of a hunger strike inside the jail where he has been sentenced to twenty-two days for approaching within a half of a nautical mile of where a sealer was killing a seal.
Twenty-two days for witnessing the cruel and brutal slaughter of a seal pup. Not only was Dr. Vlasak charged with this, he was attacked by sealers on the ice, struck with a sealing club, and his face bloodied. The Mounties refused to lay charges against his assailants.
SEA SHEPHERD CREW MEMBER LISA SHALOM TO BE SENTENCED ON APRIL 3rd FOR FILMING SEAL SLAUGHTER
Canadian Lisa Shalom from Montreal, who was arrested last March for witnessing a seal being killed, is scheduled to appear in court in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on Monday, April 3rd for sentencing.
Ten of the eleven Sea Shepherd crew have been sentenced to pay $1,000 fines each for approaching sealers engaged in the act of killing seals. The convictions are being appealed. Lisa Shalom was the only Canadian charged and was given a separate sentencing date. There is some speculation that because she is Canadian her sentence could be more severe.
Lisa Shalom is presently in Prince Edward Island representing the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and investigating sealing activities.
HSUS GROUNDED IN PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Canadian and Newfoundland native Rebecca Aldworth and her crew from the Humane Society of the United States have been grounded by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
After having seal guts thrown at them by sealers and after their inflatable boat was rammed by a sealing vessel, Rebecca, five other crew, and a reporter from Reuters were charged with approaching within 10 meters of the sealers who attacked them. The HSUS boat was damaged.
They all had permits to document the slaughter, however, the permits restrict the approach to the sealers to a distance of 10 meters. Alternatively, the sealers are not restricted from approaching the people with the permits. When a sealer approaches a person with a permit, the permit holder is required to withdraw and maintain a 10 meter distance. Therefore, when the sealers came toward and attacked the HSUS crew, the victims in the attack automatically were in violation of the regulations.
Of course, no sealers were charged with assault or damage to property.
The law is one sided in favor of seal killers in Canada.
CANADA IS PLANNING A WEST COAST SEAL HUNT
On March 28th, Captain Paul Watson was interviewed by CBC television for his response to a call for a West Coast Canadian Seal Slaughter.
The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is making noises about setting a quota of 20,000 seals on the West Coast. There was no indication as to the targeted species - harbour seals or seal lions?
Captain Watson informed CBC that any move towards opening a slaughter of seals on the Pacific coast would be strongly opposed.
CANADIAN BOYCOTT TO ESCALATE
Friends of Animals in the United States has called for a boycott of tourism to Canada. Sea Shepherd supports this boycott.
Actor Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams) suggested to Captain Paul Watson that a boycott be organized directed at having non-Canadian production companies boycott Canada for the purpose of making movies and television shows. There is also a movement (led by Morrissey's example) for musicians to boycott Canada and to refrain from touring Canada until the seal slaughter stops.
DEBATE ON SEAL SLAUGHTER IN NEWFOUNDLAND CANCELLED
Captain Paul Watson was scheduled to debate pro-sealers in St. John's Newfoundland on March 31st.
He agreed to attend a screening of the Newfoundland film My Ancestors Were Rogues and Murderers, a National Film Board of Canada production that supports the culture of killing seals in Newfoundland.
The debate had been organized by the CBC and the National Film Board of Canada. Three days before the debate, the event was cancelled when the pro-hunting supporters withdrew.
Ann Troake, the director of the film was one of the people and Premier Danny Williams was invited to the panel. Apparently Ann Troake felt that she would not be able to defend her bloody tradition and backed out.
Danny William, who was unable to debate the issue effectively with Paul and Heather McCartney would not participate.
In the end, the National Film Board of Canada and the CBC were unable to assemble any defenders of the seal hunt willing to debate the controversy with Captain Paul Watson.
Big, brave, club-swinging barbarians on the ice when it comes to bashing in the heads of baby seals but complete cowards when it comes to debating the issue with a seal defender with three decades of experience on the ice floes protecting the seals.
The title of the film - My Ancestor Were Rogues and Murderers - is a very appropriate title indeed about a tradition of bloody exploitation by a culture that drove numerous indigenous species including the indigenous people of Newfoundland to extinction.
The Beothuk people, the now extinct Labrador duck, giant auk, sea mink, Newfoundland wolf, walrus, and much-diminished species of cod, pilot whales, and so many others would agree - Ann Troake's ancestors were in fact rogues and murderers although she appears to be quite proud of this history but then again the family on the cover of the DVD looks pretty inbred.
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON:
"Opposition to the horrifically-cruel and ecologically destructive slaughter of over 325,000 seal pups is building. It has become an international movement with a life of its own involving hundreds of organizations, businesses, and thousands of individuals. Canadian Consulates have witnessed demonstrations in dozens of cities worldwide. Every week, another country announces that they will ban seal products. We even had Costco remove seal oil Omega-3 capsules from the shelves of their stores in Newfoundland and Eastern Canada.
We can win this fight for the seals. We have it in our power to shut down and abolish the Canadian commercial seal hunt. We need to work together and we need to keep the pressure on Canada. We need more celebrity input, more restaurants, and retailers to sign onto the seafood boycott. More petitions, more hunger strikers, demonstrators, and letter writers.
We must send a message loud and clear to the Canadian government that this movement is not going away, that Canada is gaining a reputation around the world as a cruel and insensitive nation and for what - to protect a few jobs in an industry that lasts only for a few weeks.
This slaughter is costing Canada more than it makes now, much more. How much more will it cost before these politicians decide that their stubborn pride must give way to the interests of concerned citizens around the world?
The cruel and ecologically destructive slaughter of seals is a national disgrace. It has no place in a civilized world, no place in the 21st Century and no place in a world that strives towards decency and kindness.
This blood-soaked obscenity of cruelty must be ended."
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HOW YOU CAN STOP THIS SLAUGHTER
Sir Paul McCartney and wife Heather issued the following statement through the Sunday Mirror: "We are devastated to learn that 325,000 of these harp seals - almost all of them defenceless babies - will be clubbed and shot to death. Compassionate people from all around the world are opposed to this seal hunt, including the majority of Canadians, and we urge them to contact their Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and ask him to ban the hunt.
"We chose to come out to the ice floes before the hunt began because it would break our hearts to have to see the cruelty of the hunt.
"But we are absolutely committed to making sure this is the last slaughter of baby seals in Canada anyone will ever have to witness. An important strategy to ending the hunt is closing down the global markets for seal products. Countries such as Greenland, Mexico, and Italy have taken steps to ban the import of sealskins
"When countries stop buying sealskins, there will be no reason for sealers to kill the seals. We are asking every single country to please, please stop buying seal products so this hunt will stop. We're proposing a fair solution to all of this - a sealing licence buy-back plan.
"This is a win-win solution: fishermen would be compensated for any lost revenue when the hunt is closed, and Canada would have a graceful way to put an end to a cruel and needless practice that should have been stopped many years ago."
• Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has the power to stop the hunt
Click here to learn more about what you can do to help save the seals!