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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Seal Slaughter Suspended for a Week

The savage slaughter of the baby seals has been suspended for a week.

The sealers of the Quebec’s Magdalen Islands have returned home to bury three of the four sealers killed by Canadian Coast Guard incompetence. The fourth is still missing and is presumed dead.

Some of the Magdalen Island sealers will not be returning. According to the Canadian media:  Wayne Dickson hasn't caught his quota of seals this season. But the 53-year-old says he no longer has the will to hunt after watching his friend's sealing vessel capsize while being towed by a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the weekend. Dickson and his six-member crew managed to rescue two fishermen, but three other sealers drowned and a fourth is still missing after the damaged L'Acadien II fishing vessel overturned while being dragged over a large chunk of ice, about 70 kilometres north of Cape Breton Island. "I just don't have the heart for it - I don't think many of the guys are going back out," Dickson said Tuesday. "It is just too devastating."

Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has accused anti-slaughter organizations of exploiting the tragedy to underscore how unsafe sealing is, citing that the sealers are well aware of how dangerous their occupation is.

“We did not kill these men,” said Captain Paul Watson. “Canadian government incompetence and the political ambitions of Loyola Hearn killed them. Hearn allows hundreds of undersize, wooden and aluminum vessels into treacherous ice conditions and does not provide adequate Coast Guard protections and training. Those men died because they were in conditions they should not have been in and the Canadian government put them in that position.”

Canadian Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn is attempting to discredit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society with contradictory accusations. First he accuses Sea Shepherd of being a wealthy organization and then describes the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat as an unsafe “decrepit rust bucket.”

The Farley Mowat is an ice class steel hulled 60 meter ship that has years of experience navigating ice conditions both in the Arctic and the Antarctic yet according to the Minister it is unsafe for our ship to be in the ice yet it is okay to send 12 meter fragile vessels into the same ice.

In the last week, two sealing boats have sunk, numerous sealing boats have broken down, the government failed to rescue the crew of the boat they were towing after their tow capsized the vessel and then they twice rammed the Farley Mowat with a large ice-breaker.

The crew of the Farley Mowat also observed the ice-breaker running down and crushing seal pups on the ice and they observed absolutely no enforcement of the humane regulations with regard to killing the seals.

“We’ve seen seals suffering in agony on the ice. We’ve seen enough to know that Canada’s claim that the seal hunt is humane has no credibility” said Farley Mowat communications officer Shannon Mann 35 from Alberta.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society recognizes that the deaths of four sealers is a tragedy but Sea Shepherd also recognizes that the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal pups is an even greater tragedy.

“One of the sealers was quoted as saying that he felt absolutely helpless as he watched the boat sink with sealers onboard,” said Captain Paul Watson. “I can’t think of anything that defines helplessness and fear more than a seal pup on the ice that can’t swim or escape as it is approached by some cigarette smoking ape with a club. This is a seal nursery and these men are sadistic baby killers and that might offend some people but it is the unvarnished truth – they are vicious killers who are now pleading for sympathy because some of their own died while engaged in a viciously brutal activity.”

The Farley Mowat is berthing in the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon until the slaughter resumes next week. The crew intends to get the video off the ship of the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker twice ramming the Farley Mowat. The Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has accused Sea Shepherd of lying about the ramming. First he claimed that the Coast Guard did not ram the Sea Shepherd vessel, then he claimed that the Coast Guard only “grazed” the Farley Mowat and then he said that it was the Farley Mowat that hit the Coast Guard icebreaker. The video will be able to confirm the Sea Shepherd story. The Canadian Coast Guard has not released any video and is not expected to.

Attempts to retrieve the video by helicopter failed when the Canadian Department of Transport grounded the helicopter from HSUS that was going to pick up the video.
The Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat is in the middle of very hostile territory, in the middle of dangerous ice conditions, unable to rely on the Canadian Coast Guard for assistance, under attack by that same Coast Guard, threatened by powerful Canadian politicians, threatened with physical assault from armed and angry seal killers.

“My crew of volunteers are all courageous men and women and they are risking their lives and their freedom to expose the lies of the Canadian government,” said Captain Paul Watson. “They have seen, and they have documented the cruelty of the seal slaughter. They are there to gather evidence to support a European ban of seal products. They do not get paid for this, they make personal sacrifices and I resent the Minister of Fisheries making offensive remarks about their motivations. It is amazing when compassion for life is dismissed as radical and those who slaughter the innocent are given the full support of the government and the Minister of Fisheries. The last time this happened the man’s name was Herod and now it’s Hearn.”