Blue Rage - Riding the Tempest for the Baby Seals

Report from the Farley Mowat
By Captain Paul Watson

Position:   51 Degrees 17 Minutes North
52 Degrees 17 Minutes West
130 Miles east of St. Anthony, Newfoundland

You really, really have to love seals to endure what my crew are experiencing today. We are in the midst of a hellish storm that has winds approaching one hundred miles an hour along the Labrador coast. We are now a hundred miles off the coast of Northeastern Newfoundland, and we are being slammed and dunked and tossed about like a cork in a Maytag.

Just typing this report is a difficult job as I struggle to keep seated in one place long enough to hit the keys before being thrown about.

Our rudder stern tube ruptured sending hundreds of gallons of water into our food storage area and the aft starboard accommodation space. Boson Adrian Haley ripped open the bulkhead and patched the tube and then pumped out the water. A freak wave tossed me across the cabin and slammed me into a bulkhead which resulted in bruises to my back. Hopefully, there are no internal injuries.

The cooks managed to set out some cold porridge and soy milk. To rough for coffee.

The seas are mountainous and the wind is bitterly cold as it layers ice onto our decks and masts. The howling of the wind is like a heralding of disaster. It is like listening to a teapot whistle and no way to turn it off. It is difficult to relate just how thoroughly uncomfortable this day is becoming. After three days of stormy weather, this day is the worst day yet and it does not look like it is getting better.

And as uncomfortable as it is, we hope that it does not stop. We are positioned in the bleachers as Mother Nature throws her awesome might at the Northeast Coast of Newfoundland and we take a great deal of pleasure in knowing that as uncomfortable as we are, the sealers in their smaller vessels are even more uncomfortable and more importantly, they are being prevented from inflicting their cruel carnage on the baby seals.

This is the third day since the day the seal slaughter was scheduled to begin and not a single seal has died. Nature has thrown a white shield of bitter wind and cold between her children on the ice and the cruel dark-hearted killers who wait to begin the slaughter. The kill has been officially delayed again today.

Yesterday there were over 400 emergency calls to the Coast Guard for assistance. The sealing fleet is in trouble and every day they wait, they lose money. They are also running out of time. Many are crab fishermen and the crab season opens soon and there is more money in crabbing than in sealing.

I participated in a debate this morning on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Newfoundland. It was a three way call between the CBC studio in Cornerbook, Newfoundland, the Minister of Natural Resources John Efford from his office in Ottawa, and myself onboard the Farley Mowat.

I became annoyed quickly when the moderator would not let me respond to some of the ridiculous accusations from John Efford. I refused to answer her next question until I answered his accusations.

According to Efford, the only reasons that we are opposed to sealing is because we make money from it, we have offshore secret accounts, and we are such hypocrites that we dine on veal and lamb as we protest the seal kill.

I had to forcefully reply that we are vegetarians, that we have in fact very little money, and that he had some audacity making such unsubstantiated accusations as a representative of what is now being revealed as the most corrupt and scandal-ridden government in the history of Canada.

Efford rambled on about seal populations using his inflated estimates that have no scientific foundation and then said that the seals were impeding the recovery of the cod, something that even the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is not preaching anymore. I suggested that he speak with Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan so they can get their stories straight.

The moderator than asked why we were continuing to say that the sealers were killing baby seals when, according to her, that is a lie. I answered that every single seal that I saw killed two weeks ago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence was under seven-weeks old and that they were baby seals.

When is a baby seal not a baby seal? The answer is when Canada rules that baby seals are to be defined as adult seals.

Efford then lied and said that he had offered to debate me but that I had refused. That was when I called him a pompous bastard and said that was untrue and told him to name the time and the place for a debate right now. It was at this point that I was cut off by CBC.

Efford and I were followed by Newfoundland Minister of Fisheries Trevor Taylor who said he is not concerned about a boycott of Canadian seafood products which, of course, is political doublespeak meaning that he is concerned. He made a very big deal about not being concerned.

I stressed that the boycott of Canadian seafood products was our primary weapon in opposing the slaughter of seals and that we planned to build this movement up to the same strength as it was in the late seventies and early eighties. We shut this obscenity down in 1984 and I am confident that we can do it again.

Back on the ice, the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Henry Larsen continues to follow us like a big overgrown dog. It's hard to believe that with over 400 distress calls yesterday and more coming today that we get our own Coast Guard escort. You would think they have more pressing concerns - like saving lives.