Sea Shepherd Wades Into La Jolla Seal Battle

On Tuesday October 13, Captain Paul Watson appeared before the San Diego City Council to speak on behalf of the seals on the beach at La Jolla, California.

He was allowed only three minutes, but in that brief amount of time he laid out a strategy for a campaign to oppose the proposal by the City Council to dredge a seal colony habitat on the waterfront of the affluent community of La Jolla.

Captain Watson told the City Council that it was unusual for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to be involved in issues within the United States because the Marine Mammal Protection Act, (which has been in force since 1972), provides legal protection for seals and the National Marine Fisheries Service is the agency charged with the enforcement of this law.

Only once before has Sea Shepherd intervened, and that was in 1998 when the National Marine Fisheries Service granted the Makah Tribe in Washington State a permit to kill whales without first undertaking an Environmental Assessment. In that case, the National Marine Fisheries was successfully sued and the permit was withdrawn.

Captain Watson informed the San Diego City Council that if a permit was issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) without an Environmental Assessment, both NMFS and the San Diego City Council would be challenged in the courts for violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Three seals have been reported to have been stabbed or slashed. Sea Shepherd is investigating if these injuries were intentionally inflicted or the result of accidents. In addition, people have been chasing seals into the water and preventing them from coming on to the beach. These are violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the violations are not being challenged or acted upon by the NMFS.

In response to this, Captain Watson informed the City Council that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is posting a $2,000 reward for any evidence or information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act in connection with the seals at La Jolla.

Captain Watson also informed the City Council that he would make this an international and a national issue.

"This involves more than just the community of La Jolla. This is an attempt to undermine and weaken Federal regulations. We are not only defending the seals here, we are defending the Marine Mammal Protection Act."

Captain Watson added, "Seal habitat has been greatly diminished along the California coast due to human development. Will this City Council be satisfied when the only place they will find a seal in San Diego County will be at Sea World?

In response to the argument that the seals need to be removed to provide access to the beach for children, Captain Watson said, "Every child that I have seen at this beach is thrilled to see these seals. This is not about what children want, it is about what adults want. Cruelty to seals and destruction of seal habitat is not behavior that most children support."

The brief presentation by Captain Paul Watson was followed by a protest by the Save the San Diego Seals Coalition in front of the City Hall.

The Save the San Diego Seals Coalition has filed a lawsuit against the City that challenges the September 14 vote to dredge Casa Beach in the village of La Jolla and to remove the rope barrier that has protected the 200 seals on the beach from human harassment.

Progress on the lawsuit can be followed on the website:

Concerned people are urged to write Mayor Dick Murphy and San Diego Council Member Scott Peters to protest their advocacy of this plan to destroy the seal habitat and 200 seals.

Please write to them and express your concern that the Marine Mammal Protection Act is being ignored and that the City of San Diego is illegally pursuing a plan to dredge the beach where the seals have established a colony. We need to demand that the laws protecting the seals be enforced and that people harassing the seals be charged if they persist in breaking the law.

Write to:

Mayor Dick Murphy

news_041014_1_mayorOffice of the Mayor of San Diego

202 "C" Street  11th Floor

San Diego, California 92101

Telephone: (619) 236-6330

Fax:  (619) 236-7228

Council Member Scott Peters

This is the politician who has led the effort to destroy the seal colony.

news_041014_1_petersCouncil Member Scott Peters
202 C Street, MS #10A
San Diego, CA  92101

Telephone: (619) 236-6611
From North County (858) 484-3808
Fax: (619) 236-6999

On a more positive note, write to Council Member Donna Frye and let her know that you support her efforts to protect the seals and her opposition to the City Council's vote to eradicate the seals. Donna is currently running for the office of Mayor of San Diego.

Council Member Donna Frye

news_041014_1_fryeCouncil Member Donna Frye
202 "C" Street, MS #10A
San Diego, CA 92101

Telephone: (619) 236-6616
Fax: (619) 236-7329


Media Coverage:

Story on this in the San Diego Union Tribune:

Captain Paul Watson was also interviewed by San Diego television and radio and interviewed on National Public radio.

Where the San Diego City Council Members stand on this issue:

The Six Council Members Who Voted to Evict the Seals from the Beach at La Jolla:


1)  Dick Murphy                
Phone: (619) 236-6330
Fax:      (619) 236-7228


2)  Scott Peters (District 1)
Phone:  (619) 236-6611
Fax:       (619) 236-6999

3)  Jim Madaffer (District 7)
Phone:  (619) 236-6677
Fax:       (619) 238-1360

4)  Brian Maienschein (District 5)
Phone: (619) 236-6655
Fax:      (619) 238-0915 

5)  Ralph Inzunza (District 8)
Phone: (619) 236-6688 
Fax:      (619) 231-7918

The Three Council Members Who Voted to Protect the Beach Habitat for the Seals:

1)  Donna Frye (District 6)   
Phone: (619) 236-6616 


2)  Toni Atkins (District 3)     
Phone: (619) 236-6633

3)  Michael Zucchet (District 2)
Phone: (619) 236-6622

Note: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does not officially endorse candidates for political office. We provide educational information on the positions held by candidates that affect marine wildlife issues.