Sunday, April 20, 2008

Paul Watson and the Armada of Death

Let me get this straight. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, aided by the RCMP, boarded and seized the Dutch-registered protest vessel Farley Mowat in order to prevent injury to sealers -- just a couple of weeks after DFO drowned four sealers itself in a terrifying display of incompetence.

And the European master and mate of the vessel have been jailed and charged with offences under a set of "marine mammal protection regulations" that were created specifically to stifle dissent by preventing protesters from approaching seals who are in the process of being slaughtered.

And all this hits the headlines just as the European Union debates whether to ban seal products from the EU completely. A triumph of Canadian diplomacy.

And the Minister, Loyola Hearn, contributes to the calm and rational discussion of the seal hunt by sneering at the internationally-venerated Farley Mowat, who had the effrontery to putup bail money for the jailed officers. Hearn also excoriates Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd Conservation society as "a bunch ofmoney-sucking manipulators."

If money-sucking manipulation is now a crime under the Fisheries Act, perhaps we should send a few fisheries officers to call on The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney. Whether or not Mulroney's skulking encounters with Karlheinz Schreiber were otherwise illegal, there's not much doubt that they represented "money-sucking manipulation" on an Olympic scale.

But that's not true of Paul Watson. Say what you will about Paul Watson -- and you can say, with some justice, that he's intransigent, uncompromising, hyperbolic, pugnacious, rash and intemperate -- you cannot ascribe cynicism to a man who has spent his whole life charging whaling ships with rubber rafts, getting himself tear-gassed and beaten and jailed, and confronting armed and angry sealers and whalers far out on the cold and lonely sea.

But Hearn, who has spent his entire working life in classrooms and legislatures, says Watson is "gutless." Stunning.

Paul Watson is not a cuddly figure. He doesn't mind risks, and he is not intimidated by the authorities. If they don't give him a permit, he goes to the ice without one and takes the consequences. If he has to go to jail, he goes. If the authorities bar him from the ice, he organizes a shipload of others. If they harass his Canadian ship, he registers it in the Netherlands. If they tell him he can't enter Canadian waters, he stays 13 miles offshore and lets the hunt come to him.

He is utterly devoted to what he's doing. And his passionate commitment reduces DFO and its successive ministers to gibbering, frothing incoherence.

The truth is that two worlds are colliding every spring at the seal hunt. Loyola Hearn represents the fading world-view which holds that human beings somehow rank above all other beings, holding dominion over the living whole and exploiting it without restraint. Watson, a vegan, represents the leading edge of a new world of people who recognize themselves as part of nature, responsible for their stewardship of the natural world, and no more precious than any other species on the planet.

Watson was speaking for that new world when he said that the deaths of the four sealers was a tragedy -- but the deaths of 270,000 seals was an even greater tragedy. The striking outcome of that remark -- as I saw it on a CBC News poll -- was not that many people were outraged by it, but that perhaps two-thirds of the callers agreed with him.

When I first met Watson, I'm quite sure that the proportion would have been reversed -- that a single human life would have been considered far more valuable than the lives of any number of animals. That was in 1976, on the ice at the Front, north of Newfoundland. I was reporting on the seal hunt. Watson was there with Greenpeace, of which he was a founding member.

That year, the Front was covered by all the major American TV networks, the wire services, and influential papers like the Boston Globe. The gory images that flashed around the world were a disaster for the sealing industry and the Canadian government. Ever since then, DFO has worked implacably to prevent detailed coverage of the slaughter, and it has largely succeeded. Except for Paul Watson.

In those days we hadn't begun to grasp the damage that human beings had already done to the oceans. We didn't know about the fury of destruction that has eliminated 90% of the world's large predatory fishes. We hadn't watched while DFO "managed" the Atlantic cod and the Pacific salmon into commercial extinction.

But Watson understood in his viscera that we were confronting an armada of death supported by pliant and amoral authority. With growing support, he has fought them ever since -- and, with his fellow green warriors -- he has changed the world.

-- 30 --

36 comments:

Sinikka Crosland said...

My Sunday morning couldn't have turned out brighter--the reason being nothing other than your article, "Paul Watson and the Armada of Death".
The truth needs desperately to be told, and you have accurately pointed out the coverups, lies, and corruption that co-exist with bureaucracy. I wish that all Canadians could read your fabulous article and understand that the world is not the same as it was thirty or forty years ago. In spite of the dinosaurs, the rest of society is evolving. Increasing numbers of citizens are standing with the visionaries who strive so hard to achieve peace--for all species, not just our own.
Thank you so much for sharing the truth with your readers.

prad said...

that has to be one of the best writeups on any topic on the entire internet! the old world, new world dichotomy is as precise as it gets ... and paul watson has been showing us into the new world for decades!

George said...

Thanks,

For providing intelligent writing I agree the world is wanting change for a better world and the Paul Watson is trying to do this.

I applaud you for writing this.

Take Care,

George

Lani said...

Thank you for writing this article. It means so much to me read such positive words about my father.

Best regards,
Lilliolani Lum-Watson

JayP said...

Thank you for this wonderful article Mr. Cameron. It was just this morning I was trying to explain to someone why Paul Watson is one of my all time heroes. Thank you for putting it in words that are not within my ability. And Thank You to Paul Watson!!! I will add that the DFO under the direction..or should I say control of Hearn will go down in history as the period that Canada's fisheries and oceans go down the proverbial toilet.

DJ said...

Finally! A voice of reason in Canada! Thank You! No doubt others in the Martimes feel the same way, but no one else seems to be talking. Silence is complicity. Thank you for breaking that silence. Capt. Watson and the crews of SSCS are to be commended. Kudos, sir!

Ranjana said...

Thank you for your wonderful article. Pointing out the clash between the amoral and destructive forces of the old way and the respect for all life promoted by the new way sheds light on what is happening. Recognizing the courage and determination of those such as Paul Watson who are leading the development of a new world order is inspiring. Your understanding of the issues and and ability to express them so clearly brings hope for change.

Michael said...

Thank you so much for this great article. It really made this Sunday a bright, SUNny DAY for me.
I enjoyed reading every line of your so accurate and clear writing. Yes, the dinosaurs will die out and make place for the Paul Watsons of this planet, and I hope this will happen rather sooner than later. Your article will help to accelerate the porcess.
Thank you for that!
I wish you all the best!
Michael

Helena said...

Bravo for an article well written.
This is indeed a clash between two worlds that are also made up of two different qualities of human beings .
Hopefully some day soon everyone will think like Paul Watson.
Then the world will indeed be a better place.Only then will our fellow sentient beings rest from the horrors inflicted on them by humans.
Helena

Tove Reece said...

Thank you for your courage to write this article and to say what needed to be said. It must not be easy in this climate of being deemed a traitor if you speak out against the seal slaughter. Your article has exposed the lies piled upon lies by politicians of all stripes, bureaucrats and most of the media. Paul Watson is a visionary with the courage to act on that vision and someday he will be hailed a hero even here in Canada. Thank you for a wonderful and lucid article.

common ground said...

Thank you! We each have our way of putting our love into the world. You have shown us yours with your words. And praises for the life-affirming work of Paul Watson and the members of Sea Shepherd.

Susan

Deb said...

One of the best articles I've seen in the Canadian media in years! It's long overdue that the government rhetoric be exposed for what it truly is - lying, manipulative garbage.

I wish for more Paul Watson's in this world. If this were the case, can you only imagine the world of peace and harmony we would be privy to. A world where co-existing and respect for all living beings - regardless of species - would be the norm and no longer vilianized by the likes of politicians and those who choose to remain in the dark ages of violence and dominion.

Thank you again - from a Canadian who cares!

Jake said...

You got it straight as an arrow, Silver Donald. It was a brave and principled stance, not to mention a risky for someone who lives and writes in the Maritimes.

Someone had to say what needs to be said and our politicians are too corrupt and spineless to admit. Paul Watson and his colleagues are visionary leaders not terrorists. And the emperor Loyola Hearn has no clothes - not even a seal coat.

I care about the world and all creatures said...

What a courageous move to write this fantastic article, thank you for speaking out!

Paul Watson is a hero and should be treated as such.
If everyone were like Paul Watson, we would have a much kinder, gentler place to live!

I am so pleased to read such an intelligent article! Thanks again!

Go Nanaimo said...

How right you are Silver Donald Cameron. In the words of another Newfoundlander, General Rick Hillier, we Canadians are led by a bunch of detestable scumbags of whom Loyola Hearn is a prime example. Kudos to Paul Watson and his heroic team. Seal hunting is a national disgrace.

Tanya Petrovna said...

Paul Watson is a living super hero, and my favorite hero. After reading your article I will say you are a leading contender for the spot!

Thank you so much for your eloquent words on the subject.

Extreme Velcro said...

All the way from South Africa, I'd like to say thank you for the comments. It's good to hear from Canadians who care.

debbie said...

THANK YOU for writing such an AWESOME article about AWESOME man and his AWESOME crew!!!!!

I wish the world had more of people like Paul Watson and his dedicated crew members.

Brigitte said...

Very nice article. I´ve met Paul Watson once and was very impressed with what he does.

Maude Duncan said...

Paul Watson is a hero, no a super hero. I'm not religious, but I'm pretty sure the commandment doesn't say "Thou shall not kill humans" I hope there is a special place in hell for the killers and abusers of our animal friends. I feel about as bad for the 4 dead sealers, as they do for the seals they kill. Karma , got them , and I hope it gets the rest of them.

tricia Glynn said...

Thank you, Thank you for a brilliantly written article showing that Paul Watson indeed is the example of what all human beings should be striving for and the change we wish to be. "Speech is Silver, Silence is gold". This quote is as much an anachronism as Hearns himself.
"Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor never the tormented." I have always preferred Silver to gold so again thank you Silver Donald for taking a stance on this immoral atrocity.

Karen Barker said...

Paul Watson is a modern day hero. It is so disturbing that the Canadian government can blatantly lie to the public and seemingly get away with it. I am so grateful to have Paul Watson on our planet, working to save our animals because we sure can't rely on our money-grubbing government officials to do that. Hail to Paul Watson, and thank you for writing such an intelligent and honest article.

Richelle said...

Thank you so much Donald for your intelligent words which are so connected the planet.

karen said...

A very nice, much appreciated and even more needed article. Thanks for taking the time to share this with others.

DeniseA said...

I have been a long time admirer of Paul Watson since first learning of his courageous activism back in the '80's fighting to protect Whales. He is one man who has stood defiant against the "Armada of Death" on the seas and oceans across the planet.

to Paul Watson and the SeaShepherd crew, thank you for fighting on behalf of these magnificient beings...you have the support of like-minded people from all corners of the globe.

great article, please everyone send EU Commissioner Stavros Dimas a polite message supporting the seal pelt ban if you haven't done so already.

Honourable Stavros Dimas
Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs
B-1049 Brussels
Belgium
FAX: 32 2 2982 099
E-Mail: stavros.dimas@ec.europa.eu

Jean said...

This is a wonderful article, well reasoned and very much to the point. Our politicians are gutless wonders and acting very much against what the majority of Canadian voters believe, that the seal slaughter is cruel and inhumane. Shame on your opportunistic nonsense, Loyola! You and other politicians represent more than a bunch of sealers.

rcraig89 said...

Thank you so much Donald! At least we have one avenue for accurate commentary!

Michelle said...

Thankyou so much for standing up to our propagandizing and deceitful government in your wonderful article. The baby harp-seal slaughter is big news in Europe, where the media covers it extensively every spring, replete with video footage. The media in Canada, on the other hand, are almost silent and continue to ignore the pleas of me and my colleagues to broadcast the truth about the massacre... Mr. Cameron, you are to be commended for standing up for baby harp seals and for selfless heroes like Paul Watson and his crew.

Sharon said...

Fantastic article! The tide is indeed turning and the biocentric perspective of deep ecology - that all life has intrinsic value - is gaining ground. The likes of Loyala Hearn will never understand anything but the human-centred resource management mentality that's brought the planet to the brink. Paul Watson is a shining light.

Sharon Labchuk
leader, Green Party of Prince Edward Island

PJ said...

What a wonderful article! You have gone straight to the heart of the issue: the seal hunt is about two worlds colliding. The new world view will continue to capture more hearts and each year the opposition to the seal hunt will grow, although the government doesn't realize this yet. They still believe that by harrassing observers they can protect the hunt. I applaud Paul Watson for his courage, Farley Mowat for acting on his beliefs, and Silver Donald Cameron for his eloquence and perception.

Simone deMontfort said...

It is my opinion that the Canadian harp and hooded seal hunt violates international law. As a party to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), Canada obligated itself to “[c]onsider and undertake any ... action that may be required for the achievement of the purposes of this Convention …” Article 23 4(i). The goal of the CBD is to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss as decided by the Conference of the Parties in Decision VI/26. The spirit and the content of the Convention is concerned with the intrinsic value of biological diversity together with the moral and ethical aspects of its protection. The Canadian seal hunts are not only cruel, but also comprise a threat to global biodiversity, thus contradicting the 2010 goal as determined by the parties to the CBD.

The rate of biodiversity loss is increasing at an unprecedented pace. In order to meet the 2010 goal of halting biodiversity loss, parties must ensure that their national policies do not endanger biodiversity. This is something that Canada has failed to do. Reports show that the effects of climate change on the habitats of harp and hooded seals are causing a dramatic reduction in sea ice cover and, consequently, endangering harp and hooded seal populations. The 2007 quota of 250,000 seals and the 2008 quota of 275,000 seals as set by the government of Canada is unsustainable. The total amount of seals killed exceeds even this enormous quota. Many seals shot during these hunts escape beneath the ice where they die slowly and are never recovered. These seals are not counted in official kill statistics, making the actual kill level far higher than the level that is reported.

In order to fulfill its obligations under the CBD, Canada must bring an immediate halt to the seal hunt because it is cruel and threatens global biodiversity. Canada’s actions with respect to the seal hunt contradicts the 2010 goal of reducing biodiversity loss as agreed upon by the parties to the CBD. Canada must end the seal hunt to comply with its international legal obligations.

Penny said...

excellent article

Very educational and insightful.

thank you
Penny

LcoyoteS said...

Thank you for your article - it is like a breath of fresh air in this polluted country! I am glad to hear someone speak out against the ridiculous laws that provide protection for sealers, but none for the seals themselves or for the people who protest their slaughter. Down with Loyola Hearn and all who enforce barbarism!

Clever Dough Kids said...

Donald,

I just wanted to thank you for your truthful views of Paul Watson and the whole seizement of the Farley Mowat. It is nice to see some true shine above the glory of the press.
I tend to ignore the news on TV and the papers because it never tells us the truth, so I was pleased to see that you have finally shed the truthful light on this issue.
Thank-you once again for your honesty,
sincerely...
Amanda van der Gulik...Excited Life Enthusiast!

Onelifefan said...

I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful commentary about Paul Watson. He really believes in saving the seals, the whales, and many other creatures. I believe in that too.

Thank you from the midwestern United States!!!
-Melanie McCain

TeamYankee said...

I can't agree more with Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd doctrine.
This the straw that may break the EU and casue a total EU ban on seal products. Let's hope so!

http://teamyankee.110mb.com/