The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Farley Mowat was attacked by armed officers from the Canadian Coast Guard on 12th April. The 1st officer and the captain of the ship have been arrested and will be brought before a court in Canada charged with offences related to coming too close to the seal hunt. One woman allegedly sustained a head injury when was roughed up and received a blow to the head by an officer. The ship has been impounded and is currently being towed to a nearby port.
The Sea Shepherd has been documenting the Canadian seal hunt since the middle of March. On the 30th March, the Coast Guard rammed the Sea Shepherd ship twice, in an attempt to keep it away from the seal hunt. On 5th April, the ship was attacked by a mob of 30-40 angry seal hunters while anchored in the French island of St. Pierre. The crew of the Farley Mowat has been documenting violations of the humane regulations and gathering proof that seals are still being killed in an inhumane manner. The EU Parliament will be voting on an import ban on seal products later this year. The Canadian goverment has been actively lobbying to show that the hunt has become 'humane and sustainable'.
On the newswire: Sea Shepherd Sets Conditions for Canada to Release seized Ship | Armed Canadian Coast Guard Storms Sea Shepherd Ship and Arrests Crew | Canada To Charge Sea Shepherd Crew For Documenting Seal Hunt | Sea Shepherd Crew Attacked By Mob Of Seal Hunters | Interview With Captain Onboard Sea Shepherd Ship On Current Seal Hunt | Canadian Coast Guard Rams Sea Shepherd Ship (twice) | Sea Shepherd Moves In On Canadian Seal Slaughter
Previous features: Nottingham Activist Returns From Whale Saving Mission In Antartica | Injured Among Sea Shepherd Crew As Japanese Military Open Fire | Activists Held Hostage By Japanese Whalers In Southern Ocean
There will be a benefit gig for the Sea Shepherd in Nottingham on 12th May
According to Sea Shepherd, just before the boarding, Captain Alex Cornelissen informed the boarders that the Farley Mowat is a Dutch registered ship in international waters and that Canada had no legal right to restrict the free passage of the vessel through international waters. It is repotrted that the Sea Shepherd ship was in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the time of the boarding, which is well beyond the Canadian twelve mile territorial limit.
According to Canada's Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn, the "safety and security" of the sealers is the government's main focus and the seizing of the Sea Shepherd vessel will ensure a "safe and orderly" seal hunt. Last week, the same Mr. Hearn announced that Canada would lay charges against the captain and first officer of the anti-sealing vessel for coming too close to the seal hunt.
According to Captain Paul Watson, (president of the Sea Shepherd) he was on the phone with the Farley Mowat when he heard the voices of men screaming for the crew to fall to the floor. The men carried guns according to the communications officer he was talking to. According to Watson, the satellite phone then went dead.
Sea Shepherd insist that did not resist the boarding for fear that some of the Canadian officers would be hurt. Nevertheless, they allege that the boarding party was "rude, aggressive and violent. Amber Paarman, 24 of Capetown, South Africa was roughed up and received a blow to the head when she tried to resist being manhandled by a Fisheries Officer."
Following the boarding, The Farley Mowatt was under tow, which the crew are apparently "not feeling very safe" about due to the admission by the Canadian Coastguard that they lacked both a manual and experience of towing in ice. This lack of knowledge claimed the lives of four sealers just over two weeks when their 12 metre sealing boat capsized while being towed by a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is assuming that the video tapes taken by the crew will be seized by the Canadian authorities. There were 17 crewmembers onboard the Dutch registered Farley Mowat from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, South Africa, Canada and the United States.
The Sea Shepherd has a long history opposing the canadian seal hunt, going out in 1976 for the first time. Due to the activities by Sea Shepherd the gray seal hunt in the Scottish Orkney Islands was shut down. The Canadian considers the organisation the most aggressive threat to Canadian sealers.
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