Seal-hunt protester says happy Canada seized ship

Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:56pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The seizure by Canadian officials of a ship that was protesting the annual seal hunt off Canada's East Coast is a welcome move because of the publicity it will give the cause, a high-profile campaigner said on Monday.

Canadian authorities detained the vessel, called the Farley Mowat, on Saturday, saying they feared it could endanger the lives of seal hunters working on ice floes. Ottawa will allow hunters to shoot or club to death 275,000 young seals this year.

Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which owns the ship, said the vessel was outside Canada's 12-mile (19-km) territorial limit at the time, and described the arrest as an act of war.

Ottawa has long had troubled relations with animal rights activists seeking to film graphic shots of what they say is a barbaric practice that should be banned.

Watson denied the idea that the Farley Mowat had endangered the sealers.

"We're armed with cameras and those cameras are very threatening to the Canadian government," he said.

Watson said that before the annual seal hunt had begun he had predicted that the best thing that could happen for the anti-sealing campaign was if officials stormed the vessel in international waters.

"I said at the time I didn't that think (Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola) Hearn would be so stupid as to do that. Well, I guess he proved me wrong," he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.   Continued...

<p>A Canadian Fisheries patrol boat passes by the seized Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Farley Mowat in Sydney, Nova Scotia, April 14, 2008. REUTERS/Paul Darrow</p>