Storms Disrupts Seal Slaughter - Now Boycott Must End it Permanently
Report from the Farley Mowat
On Friday, the government of Canada has officially opened the seal slaughter at the Front. The reports we have been getting state that the seals are scattered and hard to find, the ice is broken up and scarce, and gales continue to ravage the area. Severe weather is expected to continue over the weekend.
It is certain that some seals will die but it is not certain that the sealers will kill all the seals in their quota. The ice conditions and the weather will make that a difficult task.
Unfortunately, the Farley Mowat is unable to return to the Front. We were among the sealing vessels the day before the originally scheduled opening day of April 12th but four days of raging winds have driven us very far offshore and continue to prevent us from turning back towards the coast. We can't make any progress in the direction we need to go. The sealers had the advantage of a safe harbor and we did not.
Even if we could return, the only ice is in a thin band along the coast and badly broken up. The sealers will be shooting what seals they find in the water and will be widely distributed.
Thus our campaign which started on in the ice on March 6th is over. We can only trust that the weather will continue to hammer at the sealers and will prevent them from filling their death quota.
We have accomplished much considering that as a Canadian registered ship, we were ordered not to put to sea by the Canadian government, and we did. We were ordered out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and we stayed. We suffered two hull breaches and repaired them. We were locked into the ice and broke our own way out. We confronted sealers on the ice and documented their grisly trade when we were told we could not do so. We were almost rammed by a Coast Guard ice-breaker, rifles were aimed at us, and our crew were struck with hakapiks by violent sealers. On top of that we have fought the elements of hurricane force winds, freezing temperatures, and heavy ice pressure. We were unable to enter a Canadian port for shelter from the storms without being seized. We have been considered such a threat to the seal hunt that Canada, at great expense, dedicated an Coast Guard ice-breaking vessel solely for the purpose of tailing us to prevent us from documenting any sealing activity.
And we have given the campaign to protect the seals terrific momentum. Newfoundland Fisheries Minister Trevor Taylor has admitted this was the strongest campaign mounted in decades and acknowledged that it was the first time the protest has come to the waters off Northern Newfoundland.
Captain Paul Watson has done dozens of interviews with media from around the world from the Front. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has managed to mount a sea-going campaign that has included both the major areas where the seals are slaughtered - the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Labrador Front.
The arrests of our eleven crew in the Gulf will give us the platform we need to challenge the constitutionality of the regulations that prevent the witnessing and documentation of the killing.
Additionally, charges are being pursued against the sealers who assaulted our crew in the Gulf.
Sea Shepherd will be campaigning in the Canadian Seafood Boycott, which was initiated by the Humane Society of the United States and Animal Alliance of Canada (and will be joined by many other organizations participating in the Unified Opposition against the Canadian slaughter of seals). We will also be organizing plans to return to the ice in 2006 and again and again until we shut this great obscenity down once and for all.
And wherefore from here?
Despite the fact that we have been at sea for nearly two months, we are not going home just yet. We now head to the Tail of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to deploy experimental net-rippers. These are steel constructs designed to lie on the bottom in wait of a drag trawl. Once the trawl passes over the device, it is designed to dig into the bottom and at the same time the outer arms will rip open the net.
Despite the crash of the cod fishery, the banks continue to be plundered. There needs to be a program to drop thousands of net rippers on the Nose and the Tail of the Banks and the Flemish Cap, those areas outside of Canadian territorial waters. Our job on this trip is to drop a couple of experimental net rippers to assess their effectiveness.
In 1993 on the Grand Banks, Captain Watson looks out from the Sea Shepherd ship the Cleveland Amory at a Spanish trawler illegally fishing.
The Cleveland Amory blocks off the Spanish trawler's nets.
We don't expect to get much media coverage on this. The Canadian media likes to cover cute seals but not "ugly" cod although they will continue to say we ignore fish and focus exclusively on cute little baby seals. We don't discriminate on the basis of the attractiveness of a threatened species despite the Canadian government propaganda to the contrary.
We were the first organization into the ice this year to protect the seals and we are the last organization to leave. We wish we could have done more, but we did all that our ship and our current resources allowed us to do for this year.
Cod fish and seals are equal in Sea Shepherd's eyes
For the rest of the year, we need to take our campaign to the restaurants and fish distributors to convince them to protect the seals by canceling contracts to purchase Canadian seafood. We need to continue to take our campaign to the streets in front of Canadian Consulates and Embassies. We need to make more people aware of the seal slaughter and once aware we need to enlist their support.
We shut the commercial slaughter of seals down in 1984. We can do it again.