Seal Defense 2008

Seal Defense Campaign 2008
In the News

April 17, 2008 -- Vancouver Sun - Canada  online/print news

EU official criticizes Canada for blocking seal hunt observers

Canada fumbled its chance to prove once and for all that its critics are wrong in asserting that the seal hunt is cruel and inhumane, Europe's environment czar said Thursday.

European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the Canadian government, which complains that the EU is being manipulated by anti-sealing groups spreading misinformation, blocked a team of European experts sent on a fact-finding mission during the 2007 hunt.

"If a team of experts wasn't able to look at what is happening, and how it is being conducted, why do they (the Canadian government) claim that other evidence is not correct?" Dimas, in Paris to attend a major climate change conference, told Canwest News Service.

"I don't know whether it was bad faith. I don't think so. But the fact is they were prevented from doing what they were going to do."

The comment from Dimas, who said he will present legislation soon to ban all seal product imports into Europe, represented a two-pronged attack Thursday on the embattled Canadian industry . . . more

April 17, 2008 -- Economist.com - Canada  online/print news

Who's the pirate?

A public-relations coup for animal-rights activists

HIS ship flies a flag that looks suspiciously like the skull and crossbones. But Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an animal-welfare group known for its aggressive tactics, says it's the Canadian government that is guilty of piracy after a unit of the national police boarded and seized one of the society's ships off Canada's east coast on April 12th.

Just where the Farley Mowat, a Dutch-registered yacht being used by the society to protest against Canada's annual seal hunt, was at the time is in dispute. Mr Watson, who was not on board, claims the skirmish happened in international waters, making it an act of piracy. To make his point, he paid half the C$10,000 ($10,000) bail for its captain and first officer in C$2 coins, calling them dubloons. Loyola Hearn, the federal fisheries minister, insists that it was in Canadian waters, claiming that the “money-sucking manipulators” were endangering seal hunters on the ice floes.

The ship's GPS navigation unit, now in police hands, will eventually yield the truth. But Mr Watson and his group have already scored their public-relations coup. Videos of the seizure and arrests, interspersed with gory scenes of hunters clubbing seals to death, flooded television newscasts and sprouted on the internet. Many featured close-ups of cuddly, white-coated pups, although their killing has been banned since 1987.

This year's hunt for 275,000 harp seals and 8,200 hooded seals was supposed to be conducted under new, more humane rules aimed at making it more palatable to tender-hearted Europeans. That, however, now seems to be a lost cause; the EU is already considering a ban on all seal products from Canada. . . . more

April 16, 2008 -- Canada.com - Canada  online news

Jailed sealing protesters to be deported back to Europe

Two European activists will be deported to their home countries Friday after being arrested earlier this week and jailed for allegedly getting too close to the seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, one of the protesters said Wednesday.

"I'm still a bit shocked by the whole sort of ordeal," said Peter Hammarstedt, 23, the first officer of the anti-sealing vessel, the Farley Mowat. "Once again the thing we're being accused of doing is allegedly being within a half a nautical mile of someone skinning a seal alive and for that Canada deports us."

"Not only that but they storm our ship with pretty much SWAT team storm troopers on international waters, force us into this country at gunpoint, then force us back out."Society, Alexander Cornelissen (R), Captain of the Farley Mowat, and First Officer Peter Hammarstedt leave the Cape Breton correctional facility in Reserve Mines, Nova Scotia, April 14, 2008, after Cornelissen and Hammarstedt were released on bail.

Hammarstedt is a Swedish national and Alexander Cornelissen, of Amsterdam, is the captain of the Farley Mowat. Last week, the ship was carrying 17 members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The group, whose head office is in Washington, D.C., maintains it was in international waters legally observing Canada's seal hunt.

However, the two men were arrested and appeared in a Sydney, N.S., courtroom on Monday on charges of approaching within one-half nautical mile of a seal hunt without a permit. . . . more

April 14, 2008 -- CBC News - Canada  online/print news

Bail to be paid in 'doubloons' after coast guard 'pirate action'

The head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Paul Watson, is in Cape Breton to post bail — in toonies — for the skipper and first officer of the group's ship, the Farley Mowat.

"I took out 5,000 $2 coins and that's what we're gonna pay the bail. They want cash, we'll give them cash. Doubloons. I think it's appropriate for their pirate action," Watson told CBC News.

"I figure since they're going to board our vessel at gunpoint on the high seas and take all our property, they are pirates and we will give them a pirate ransom."

Watson said Canadian author Farley Mowat personally put up the money to bail them out . . . more

April 14, 2008 -- Globe and Mail - Canada  online/print news

Protesters vow to end seal hunt

The war of words over the seizure of the anti-sealing vessel Farley Mowat continued Monday, with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson vowing that the end is near for the Canadian seal hunt.

Mr. Watson, who is in Sydney to bail two crew members out of jail, told CTV News that his team has footage of seals screaming while being skinned alive that will be used to help end the hunt.

“We haven't seen any evidence of a humane hunt here,” Mr. Watson said. “We're presenting this evidence to the European Parliament. They are going to pass a bill to ban seal products. That will end the Canadian seal hunt. We're looking at the end of days for the seal hunt.”

Author Farley Mowat donated the $10,000 needed to bail the ship's captain and first officer out of jail, Mr. Watson said. . . .    more

April 3, 2008 -- Mother Jones - US  online news

Ice Blocking Canada's Seal Hunt

Good news. Thick ice is slowing sealing boats from reaching the baby harp seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, reports Planet Ark. Consequently, only three pups out of a quota of 275,000 were killed the first day. This after last year's "hunt" was affected by a lack of ice. The Canadian government has promised the slaughter will be more humane this year. How? After a hunter shoots or clubs a seal, he now must check its eyes to ensure it is dead, and if not, the animal's main arteries must be cut.

Okay, let's get clear about this. That does not qualify as humane.

The Canadian seal hunt is the largest mass slaughter of marine mammals on Earth, according to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Just what are they doing with all those dead baby seals? The furs are made into coats and clothes. And there's a growing market for seal oil, high in omega-3 fatty acid… and PCBs . . .    more

April 1, 2008 -- The Toronto Star - Canada  online/print news

Seal hunt controversy continues

Witness recalls frantic calls to icebreaker night seal hunters' ship capsized being towed

The annual seal hunt that began in tragedy continued in controversy yesterday after an animal rights protest ship claimed a Coast Guard ship rammed it twice north of Cape Breton.

The high-seas skirmish, which was hotly denied by federal fisheries officials, comes on the heels of a rescue operation gone awry that cost the lives of four seal hunters over the weekend.

Yesterday, a seal boat captain who saw the crew of the ill-fated L'Acadien II pitched into the waters north of Cape Breton, provided a chilling account of the catastrophe.

Wayne Dickson, who was following in his own boat, recounted how he was racing to reach the capsized boat and tried to warn the crew of the Coast Guard icebreaker Sir William Alexander who were towing it.

"Stop the f------ boat! Stop! Stop! Stop! You're going to kill them f------ guys – their boat's upside down!" he shouted during an emotional interview with The Canadian Press yesterday as he recalled his frantic radio message to the icebreaker. "They were still dragging the boat through the water. But there was no response.". . .    more

March 31, 2008 -- CTV.ca - Canada  online/broadcast news

Activists, coast guard clash over seal hunt

Always a tense time in Atlantic Canada, this year's seal hunt has proved no exception, with a conservation group clashing with the Canadian Coast Guard in the Gulf of St. Lawrence just three days into the annual seal hunt.

On Sunday, the coast guard icebreaker Des Groseilliers collided with the Farley Mowat, a ship owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon warned the militant group earlier in the month that the ship was believed to be in contravention of international maritime laws and should not enter Canadian waters.

But the ship came anyway, with the society claiming the Farley Mowat is a registered yacht and not subject to the same laws as commercial vessels. . . .    more

March 31, 2008 -- CNN - US  online/broadcast news

Canadian vessel, conservation group ship collide

A coast guard icebreaker and a ship owned by an activist conservation group collided off Canada's east coast as tensions mounted over the country's annual seal hunt.

A spokesman for Canada's federal fisheries department said Monday that the icebreaker was "grazed" twice Sunday by the Farley Mowat, a 177-foot vessel owned by the U.S.-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

But the conservation group countered that its ship was rammed twice by the 321-foot icebreaker Des Groseilliers about 40 miles north of Cape Breton.

"It rammed the stern end of the Farley Mowat and when the Farley Mowat was stopped, it came back and hit them again," Paul Watson, head of the society, said from Los Angeles, California. "It was twice so it was intentional." . . .    more

March 28, 2008 -- CBC News - Canada  online/broadcast news

Mind yourself at seal hunt, Canada warns Watson

As the harp seal hunt opens in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada's fisheries minister is cautioning one of the world's best-known anti-sealers to be on his best behaviour.

Paul Watson, who has been campaigning against the seal hunt since the 1970s, says he will be observing the hunt when it opens Friday in the southern Gulf.

Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said he expects no problems, so long as Watson follows the rules.

"From some of the experiences in the past, of course, we're not sure how far some of these people will push the limits," Hearn said . . .    more

March 28, 2008 -- Daily Mail - London, UK  online/print news

Environmental activists who thwarted Japan whale hunt to target annual seal cull

Environmental activists who thwarted Japan's whale hunt have promised to employ similar tactics to disrupt Canada's annual seal hunt, which began today.

Paul Watson, the head of the Sea Shepherd Society, says he and other members of his group will document what they describe as the "perverse abomination" of the seal hunt.

Mr Watson claimed his boat, the Farley Mowat, will remain outside of Canada's 20km territorial limit.

He added that it would be an international incident if Canadian authorities tried to board the ship.

Canada's Fisheries Minister has threatened Mr Watson with prosecution and warned him to steer clear . . .    more

March 27, 2008 -- The Canadian Press - Canada  online news

Sea Shepherd to oppose seal hunt in gulf after it starts Friday

Despite a stern warning from Ottawa to steer clear of Canadian waters, animal rights activist Paul Watson is vowing to head to the ice floes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence next week to oppose the annual seal hunt.

Watson said Wednesday he and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will sail into Canadian waters aboard the Farley Mowat to document the "perverse abomination" of the hunt from outside Canada's 12-mile territorial limit.

The commercial hunt is set to begin in the southern gulf Friday. A much larger hunt off Newfoundland and Labrador will open in April.

"We intend to document the killing of seals," he said from New York City.

"This is a Dutch vessel with an international crew and I think it will be an international incident if Canada tries to board a Dutch vessel in waters which are not within the 12-mile limit." . . .    more

March 25, 2008 -- New York Times - USA  online/print news

Canada's Annual Seal Hunt Starts Friday

Canada's annual seal hunt will start at the end of the week and hunters will be employing a more humane way of killing them, the government said Tuesday, but animal-rights activists condemned the planned killing as inhumane.

Phil Jenkins, a spokesman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said the hunt would begin Friday if weather permits.

Jenkins said new rules have been implemented to ensure that seals are dead before they are skinned. Hunters will be required to sever the arteries under a seal's flippers, he said.

''That is now a new condition of a sealing license,'' Jenkins said. ''We're just trying to make sure there is no possible way that a seal could be skinned while it was irreversibly unconscious but not dead. It's really going an extra distance to make sure that it's humane as it can be.''

Animal rights groups said they still opposed the hunt.

''They've added bleeding to the killing process,'' said Rebecca Aldworth, director of Canadian wildlife issues for the Humane Society of the United States. ''This won't change anything.'' . . .    more

March 21, 2008 -- Canada.com - Canada  online news

Anti-sealing vessel heading to East Coast hunt

For the first time since 2005, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is heading back to East Coast ice floes to monitor the annual seal hunt.

The animal rights organization's ship, the Farley Mowat, will leave Bermuda for the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Monday with an international crew of volunteers, founder Paul Watson says on the Sea Shepherd website.

The date for the hunt has not yet been set, but when it does begin, new rules will require sealers to ensure an animal is dead before it's bled out or skinned. If the seal is still alert, hunters will have to cut the main artery to ensure a quick death.

Watson derided the claim that the new rules make the hunt more "humane," and called it a glorified welfare scheme . . .    more

March 10, 2008 -- The Daily Telegraph - Australia   online/print news

Anti-whale protesters save seals from culling in Canada

After returning to Australia, anti-whaling protesters on board the Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin are leaving to head up to Canada to join global protests against the annual seal hunt.

Canada has set a limit for its annual seal harvest this year of 275,000 harp seals, and announced new rules to make the slaughter less cruel as well as curb international protests over the hunt.

The quota includes allocations of 2,000 seals for personal use and almost 5,000 seals for aboriginal hunters, as well as 16,000 seals carried over from last year for commercial fleets that did not capture their 2007 quota, fisheries officials said today.

As well, Canada has adopted recommendations of the Independent Veterinarians Working Group to "ensure beyond any possible doubt that a seal is dead before it's skinned", said fisheries spokesman Phil Jenkins . . .    more


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