Canada's Annual Ritual of Shame Began Today

Commentary by Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

This morning, the hot blood of the baby seals began to cool and congeal on scattered patches of ice where surviving harp seals lay.

After weeks of mass horrific mass drownings, as baby seals slipped from melting, crumbling and broken ice in the cold blackness of the Atlantic, the merciless clubs of Canada's hordes of barbaric sealers began to once again smash mercilessly in the fragile skulls of defenceless seal pups.

The perverse slaughter of baby harp seals has begun, and this, after an estimated one quarter of all the seals born this year have already perished due to the consequences of global warming. Canada wants to kill 275,000 survivors and the sealing boats are scouring the shore-fast ice and searching for scattered pans to unleash their club-toting thugs upon the defenceless.

The slaughter is under way: The largest massacre of marine mammals on the planet. It has been sanctioned by a Newfoundlander who holds the position of Minister for Fisheries and Oceans. He has this week demonstrated a complete and utter contempt for the science and reality of global warming, and has set the kill quotas solely for the purpose of appeasing the seal-hating fishermen of Newfoundland.

What has been an annual tragedy of immense proportions is now despicably more abhorrent considering that the killers are dispatching survivors of hellish conditions on broken and melting ice floes. These seals have struggled and suffered to survive the natural elements, and now they lay upon small pans of broken ice with no means of defence or escape.

What a cowardly bunch these baby killers are. They are an embarrassment to Canada, and as a twelfth generation Canadian whose family is rooted in the Maritimes, I am disgusted at the brutality and the obscenity of this mass slaughter on the ice in the ravaged nurseries off the Eastern Canadian shore.

I am unable to go to the area this year because of a court order that bans me from half my own country. I was convicted recently of the crime of witnessing a seal being killed (in 2005) and was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and prohibited from entry to the Atlantic coast for two years.

We associate "being banned" with apartheid in the former white-ruled South Africa, and now, Canadians are being banned for simply witnessing an atrocity in Canadian territory. 
Canada argues that the seal "hunt" is the most humane well-regulated animal hunt in the world. If so then why is it a crime to witness or document it?

But more importantly, why are sealers being allowed to savage the survivors of the greatest die-off of seals in history due to global warming? Adding a quota of 275,000 seals to an estimated 250,000 killed by lack of ice gives us a staggering 525,000 seal deaths for 2007.

This is not a hunt, it is a massacre. It is an attempt to exterminate a species.

The Canadian government will argue that this is not so. Why would they wipe out the seals that sealers depend upon for their livelihood? The same argument was made in defence of overfishing of the cod. The cod were wiped out and will never recover because of the incredible arrogance and ignorance of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

The harp seals are being systematically exterminated, and the DFO is overseeing this so-called final solution because the seals are the scapegoats for the mismanagement of the fisheries. If the government blames the seals and promises a solution to fish recovery with the removal of the seals, the voters will continue to back them. Since Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn is dependent only on the voters of Newfoundland, he need not care for the concerns of Canadians outside of Newfoundland.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society predicted the extermination of the cod as far back as 1982, ten years before the fishery crashed. We said in 1992, that it would not recover and it has not and will not recover.

We are predicting now, that unless these madmen at the helm of DFO are relieved, the harp seals will be driven into the oblivion of extinction because of over-hunting and global warming.

Although we cannot get a ship into the ice this year, we are working to undermine markets for seal pelts in Europe. We are in the courts with a lawsuit challenging that the regulations preventing the witnessing of the slaughter are unconstitutional. We are continuing to promote the international boycott of Canadian seafood products and we are organizing protests internationally.

We are working to get our ship the Farley Mowat into a position to challenge the sealers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in April of 2008.

Only through massive economic pressure will Canada surrender its policy of brutality on the ice floes off Newfoundland. We must work to intensify this pressure and we must work to ensure that Canadian businesses pay a huge price to endorse the slaughter. This level of cruelty and wanton slaughter has no place in the 21st Century.