|Thursday, March 27, 2008|
Sea Shepherd Founder and President Captain Paul Watson Responds to Canadian Minister of Fisheries Loyola Hearn
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has a reputation for action that precedes us and that reputation seems to have provoked Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Loyola Hearn into shooting off media releases from the hip without thought or reason.
His exceptionally emotional response is no doubt motivated by the need to posture and pose for Newfoundland fishermen. Hearn, himself a Member of Parliament for Newfoundland is well aware that it has been the incompetence of the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans that led to a total collapse of the cod fishery and the severe diminishment of practically every commercial fishery in Canada.
He needs to appear the hero to the Newfoundland fishermen and what better way to do this than to pounce upon a non-governmental organization trying to protect our oceans and endangered species like seals, whales and dolphins.
Once again it is our small under-funded organization that advances into the fray determined to oppose the largest slaughter of marine mammals on the planet. Once again the government trots out the propaganda machine to spew nonsense about the motivations of seal defenders, calling us outsiders who pretend to save seals so we can get "rich" off of contributions.
That argument does not fly with Sea Shepherd. Captain Paul Watson was raised in an East coast fishing village amongst fishermen. Sea Shepherd doesn't do telephone or door-to-door solicitations to raise money to protect seals. We are a small organization struggling to do what we can with the resources we have available to us to protect marine wildlife species from the greed of the fishing industry, from poachers and from the kind of incompetence that the Canadian government has become renowned for in the area of fisheries management.
There are groups raising millions to "protect" seals like Greenpeace and IFAW and others but you never see the likes of them on the ice actually defending seals. In recent years we've only seen the Humane Society of the United States out on the ice under the leadership of Rebecca Aldworth who herself hails from Newfoundland.
This is a movement not only established by Canadians but more specifically by Canadians from Eastern Canada including Canada's most distinguished and legendary writer Farley Mowat whose name graces the bow of the ship we are sending into the ice fields this week.
The European Parliament is debating a bill to ban seal products into Europe, a measure that will continue to elevate Europeans as the guardians of civilized values where slaughter for profit is a barbarism that must be abolished from the modern world of the 21st Century.
What are Sea Shepherd's intentions in taking our ship into the Gulf of St. Lawrence? Very simply we seek to document the slaughter of seals which in Canada is actually a crime. In fact it is a crime to film, photograph or even witness the killing of a seal under the bizarre "Seal Protection" regulations.
We now have an international crew onboard a Dutch registered ship that has every legal right to enter the Canadian Economic Exclusion Zone. We intend to stay outside of the twelve mile territorial limit. We don't intend to damage any sealing vessels or injure any sealers or human beings. We don't intend to do anything but exercise our right to witness an atrocity that the Canadian government is intending to cover up and to keep away from the eyes of the civilized world.
Yes we may be arrested, yes we may have our ship seized, yes our crew may be beaten and arrested by Canadian government thugs or sadistic sealers - but we will not back down to threats from the man who has become the Grand Inquisitor of the harp seals.
No Mr. Hearn we are coming and we will not back down in the face of your threats.
Below are comments from Loyola Hearn and Captain Paul Watson's responses.
Government of Canada Stands Up For Sealers and the Rule of Law
The Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today issued the following statement:
I am gravely concerned with comments made by Paul Watson, leader of the extremist Sea Shepherd Society that he will disregard the Government of Canada's clear warning to stay outside of our waters and choose instead to threaten the safety and livelihood of Canadian sealers.
Mr. Watson's organization has been known to cause physical harm and damage to property. Their flagship vessel, the Farley Mowat, proudly bears the names of fishing vessels it claims to have sunk.
Sealers in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and in the North should know that our government is standing up for their safety and security and will not accept such indiscriminate disregard of the law and the safety of our citizens.
Our government works hard to ensure the Canadian seal hunt is conducted in a humane, safe and sustainable manner and it adds a tremendous amount of value to those individuals who pursue it as their employment during a time when economic opportunities are limited in many remote, coastal communities. We will not be bullied or blackmailed into forcing people who depend on the sealing industry out of their livelihood based on things that are simply baseless allegations. The Sea Shepherd Society is just another organization in a long list of those trying to bully the Canadian sealing industry.
In the days ahead we will be monitoring the situation very carefully, and taking every step to ensure the safety of our sealers.