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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Society: A Financial Expose

It appears that one of my recent articles on seal hunt protest groups sparked a strongly worded response / rebuttal from Mr. Paul Watson, President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

In his comments Mr. Watson took it upon himself to question my research and belittle both my intelligence and character. In fairness to Mr. Watson, I must admit that referencing the SPCA in that article was indeed a mistake on my part. I had intended to refer to the Human Society of the U.S., but rather than HSUS I referenced the SPCA. For that, I sincerely apologize.

With regard to Mr. Watson’s other comments, I stand by the piece.

Since I have written several articles on sealing in the past, without comment from Watson, I can only assume that broaching the subject of finances is what spurred his venomous and childlike response.

Watson stated that the Society’s financial dealings are a matter of public record and available for anyone who wants to view them. As we all know financial records are what you make of them and can sometimes create more questions than they answer.

With this in mind, the following information has been gathered by myself and other interested parties including members of a U.S. based lobby group. All information, as Watson has stated, is a matter of public record. Various sources have been used including IRS returns.

This list is by no means all inclusive.

The Public Record:

1 - In 2000 Sea Shepherd reported income of $129,749 from consulting fees however there was no indication what sort of consulting this was, or for whom it was performed. Coincidentally, in the tax year immediately following, Paul Watson, who has long prided himself in not taking any salary from the society, began doing just that.

2 - In 2002 the Sea Shepherd Society passed out $35,000 in grants. Despite IRS requirements to do so, the Society did not divulge the recipients of those grants.

3 - In 2003 Sea Shepherd made a grant of $8,000 to OrcaForce International, a group supposedly started by Watson’s ex-wife . Even though the Sea Shepherd Society’s tax return shows this $8,000 amount as a contribution, at the time, the OrcaForce address was listed on the society’s web site as a Sea Shepherd International address.

Over the years several instances have been identified where assets have been moved between Sea Shepherd and OrcaForce and although OrcaForce appears to have a Canadian address, investigation did not uncover any registration or structural information on this group in either the U.S. or Canada.

4 - The liabilities of the Sea Shepherd Society jumped from $2,122, which was about normal for this group, to $222,889 in 1999. Most of this amount was related to a Mortgage at Washington Federal Savings and Loan however as far as could be determined, no details of what this loan is related to are available.

5 – Although the Sea Shepherd Society does not have a large number of donors those who contribute do so in a very big way and many of these gifts are one time donations. This would appear to be a little out of the ordinary for an organization of this type since most non-profits rely on large numbers of smaller gifts to operate.

Often, rather than hard cash, gifts to Sea Shepherd take the form of stock in major corporations. Contributions to the society have been made in everything from Harley Davidson stock ($122,000 from guitarist Mike Galesi) to Exxon-Mobile stock valued at nearly 100,000 gifted by a Ms. Whilhelmina Angel of Florida.

The donation of Exxon-Mobile stock may have been purely legitimate, however it appears to be an odd gift for Mr. Watson to accept when one considers his comments at a speaking engagement just last month.

"I won't give one penny for Katrina relief. Ill give for the animals but not for relief efforts until the oil companies pony up millions for the destruction caused by global warming."

Although many of the Society’s contributors are from the U.S, there have been some Canadian donors as well, including one who made her donation by way of Wappel Law in Toronto. This law firm works with non-profit organizations and boasts Tom Wappel the Liberal Party member for Scarborough Southwest, who recently voted in Parliment on a bill related to non-profit organizations, as a Senior Partner.

6 – The following is a rather lengthy and complex set of circumstances. Most of the items listed below might not appear interesting on their own, however when viewed together they are rather disconcerting.

- One of Sea Shepherd’s biggest financial supporters is Ms. Ann Johnston, wife of Florida land developer Mr. Pritam Singh (not his original name). Mr. Singh, (original name Paul LaBombard) was banned from banking for life in 1995 and ordered to pay $1.2 million dollars by federal bank regulators for his financing activities on a Key West business. According to the Key News Journal, Singh has also been investigated by the FBI for his questionable business practices and a Key West attorney has filed a lawsuit against him, alleging almost 20 years of criminal activity -- including racketeering and fraud.

- Both Singh and his wife are very closely connected with both the Sea Shepherd Society and the Watson family.

- The relationship between Johnston, Singh and Watson goes back a number of years. In September of 2003 Ms. Johnston’s signature appears, along with Watson’s and his wife’s, on a loan for property listed at the same address in Washington State as the Society’s headquarters. A Deed of Trust was filed in September of that year stating that a property in “Friday Harbor” Washington was used to secure this loan valued at about $221,000.

According to a recent St. John’s Telegram article, the same day this transaction took place, in fact just 5 hours after afterward, Ms. Johnston gave a 66% interest in the land to the Watson’s for $10 dollars. This gift was not to the Society itself, but rather to the Watson’s directly. Also at that time, Johnston granted the Watsons another option on propterty. The Watson’s secured additional mortgages of $50,000 and $30,000 on April 15, 2004. Within two months all debts were paid off in full.

IRS returns for the Society in that year reported that Sea Shepherd had sold a property listed as “Friday Harbor land and buildings” for $165,938, reporting a loss on the transaction of $184,862. Is this the same property that was used just a couple of months before to secure a $221,000 loan?

Although a search of San Juan County records did not reveal the "Friday Harbor" transaction having taken place, they do show a flurry of transactions involving both Paul Watson and Ann Johnston.

- In addition to her involvement in a property loan, Ms. Johnston cemented herself as a premier contributor by making a donation to the Society claimed to have been valued at nearly 2.7 million dollars. This gift consisted of a company called “Northern Development Associates”, a for-profit business with holdings in Alaska.

- Both Johnston and her husband Singh have not only shown great financial generosity to the Sea Shepherd Society, Mr. Singh has also been listed as a member of the financial and management advisory board for the Society, despite his less than spotless financial history.

- When Paul Watson was elected as director of the Sierra club in 2003 he listed his home as “Misty Fjords Lodge”, even though he has admitted that he never actually lived there. This lodge, which was a part of the 2.7 million dollar “Northern Development Associates” gift, has been identified by Watson as a research facility however the lodge is registered with the US forestry service as having a permit as a fishing lodge. It appears to qualify as the only licensed fishing lodge inside Misty Fjords National Monument in Alaska.

- A corporate search shows two relevant entities named “Northern Development Associates”. One of these is in Alaska (where the lodge is located), the other is in Florida (where Ann Johnston and her husband, developer Pritam Singh, live). Records show major overlap between both the names and addresses of many board members of the Sea Shepherd society, “Northern Development Associates” and various companies owned by Singh / Johnston.

For example, records show that in 1999 Watson’s ex-wife Lisa Distefano, who has been connected with the mysterious OrcaForce organization, was a board member of “Northern Development Associates”. At the time her address of record was listed as that of Mr. Singh’s golf course development in Key West. In addition to Ms. Distefano, several other members of the Sea Shepherd Society board have shown multiple addresses and many of these can be traced directly back to Singh properties.

- IRS documents also show that the non-profit, donation run, Sea Shepherd society made a series of loans to its wholly-owned affiliate, the for-profit “Northern Development Associates”, between 1998 and 2003.

- Tax returns for “Northern Development Associates” show losses of $222,611 in 2000, $201,180 in 2001 and $127,633 in 2002. All the while, “Northern Development Associates” was receiving loans from the tax exempt Sea Shepherd Society to the tune of nearly $900,000.

- In 2002, for the first time in history, Sea Shepherd's tax return showed the Society had incorporated the losses of “Northern Developments Associates” into its own bottom line even though it was gifted to the Society years before.

- On November 8, 2004, the Misty Fjords Lodge (the primary asset of "Northern Development Associates"), was sold to a newly-formed company, Misty Fjords, LLC, located at 6805 Overseas Highway, Marathon, Florida. Online records at the Florida Department of State’s Corporations Division name the President/Director of Misty Fjords, LLC as none other than Pritam Singh, the husband of the original donor Ms. Johnston.

At the time of sale the property was identified by the realtor as being listed for $1 million dollars under the appraised value.

- In April of 1999 the Sea Shepherd Society received a donation of a “Key West Home and Land” in Florida which the Society claimed was valued at $329,500. They re-sold this property less than 2 months later for $850,000 yet claimed an overall loss on the transaction of more than $265,000 due to related costs.

According to sources, a search of Monroe County, Florida (Marathon, Key West) records show that Sea Shepherd sold a “Single Family Home” at 5 Crane Blvd., Sugarloaf Key, FL for $850,000 on June 2, 1999. A mapquest and 1999 satellite photo search find no structures at this location.

Sea Shepherd reported $64,070 in expenses for maintenance at the Key West property as “Program Service Expenses,” indicating the money was spent to further the organization’s tax-exempt purpose.

It is not known if Singh or Johnston were involved in this transaction since the name of the donor was not found in available documents however this information may be contained in Statement 1 of Sea Shepherd’s Form 990 tax return for fiscal 1998 submitted to the IRS.

What does it all mean?

Consider that this organization enjoys tax exempt status but appears to be involved very closely with questionable business interests. The Society and its leader have been involved in everything from intentionally sinking ships to booby trapping trees which loggers must try to harvest (the practice of which is suspected of seriously injuring at least one mill worker) and they've been involved in generally disrupting legal business enterprises.

Sea Shepherd claims to have multiple vessels in ports around the world yet there is some question as to exactly how many vessels they really own and operate at any given time.

Consider as well that this organization is run by a man who, even while the world grieved over 9/11, stated, "There's nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win." In fact, just recently with regard to people who do not accept his view of nature conservation, Watson said, “If [you] shot and killed a bank robber, you would be given a medal”

Again, what does all of this mean?

Perhaps it means nothing or perhaps it means everything.

It is difficult to understand how a group which employs terrorist tactics can be given tax free status by the U.S. government. Having said this, since Sea Shepherd is indeed considered a non-profit organization, it should not bother Watson to respond to what has the appearance of questionable financial activities and business relationships.

An explanation might prove worthwhile if for nothing else than to ease the minds of anyone who may have donated money to his organization.

Do these facts show illegal or even immoral activities? That question would be best answered by U.S. federal officials / authorities, but these items don’t reflect well on the organization and it would perhaps be in Mr. Watson’s best interest to clear them up for the public record.

According to sources, much of this information and more has already been presented to the IRS but due to a lack of resources and the percieved low priority of the case, a throrough investigation has yet to take place. After all, Mr. Watson does not practice is brand of what some refer to as “eco-terrorism” in that country as often as he does in others.

Some citizens of the U.S. and Canada have contributed to this group. These people, along with the governments of both nations and in particular the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, which has long been the target of the Society’s activities, should be more than interested in getting answers and in requesting that the IRS investigate these matters fully.

I'm sure the public would love to hear Mr. Watson’s explanation, however if he chooses not to respond that’s his decision. In reality his explanations should be given to IRS investigators.

Unlike Watson, I don’t underestimate anyone’s intelligence. I’m confident that our readers are more than smart enough to draw their own conclusions if he chooses not to officially clear these items up once and for all.

Footnote: An advance draft copy of this article was sent to several NL members of parliament, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Geoff Regan and Prime Minister Paul Martin. A copy was also sent to the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and members of the opposition parties at both levels of government.

Each was invited to read the draft and respond on whether or not they intend to lobby the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for a full investigation.

As of press time there has been no response from any of the recipients.

41 comments:

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

These figures are chump change compared to the millions of disgusting dollars made by killing defenseless animals and skinning most of them alive.

Patriot--wish you would spend all this time lobbying to stop this barbaric practise that disgraces your nation.

Marie in Huskerland, USA
(Huskers are undefeated!)

Patriot said...

Marie,

It is not the size of the animal that makes it what it is.

A dog is a dog, a cat is a cat and even a small weasel is still a weasel.

Should we call it something different because of its scale?

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

I am not talking about the size of the animal. That makes no difference.

I am saying the dollars you reference with regard to Sea Shepherd are completely immaterial and are not compelling as evidence in any argument, and certainly not with regard to the seal slaughter.

As for spending U.S. resources on any investigation, as you know, we have "much bigger fish to fry" here in terms of our issues.

And of course, hopefully the fish will not be Canadian, until the killing is stopped by your government.

Patriot said...

Marie,

It seems you may have missed my point.

When I made reference to the size of the animal, I was not talking about seals. I was referring to your rationalization that because the dollar amounts are relatively small they didn't matter.

MrChills said...

“These figures are chump change compared to the millions of disgusting dollars made by killing defenseless animals and skinning most of them alive.

Patriot--wish you would spend all this time lobbying to stop this barbaric practice that disgraces your nation.”

Millions of dollars made? Have you actually been to outport Newfoundland? I would guess that the answer is mostly likely a big fat NO. I am personally acquainted with many people who are fisherman by trade, who make their way to the ice flows each and every year. Believe me these people are not making millions of dollars killing a few seals, it’s just enough for some people to put food on their families table.

Instead of lobbying people for their money to stop the seal hunt, how about giving this money directly to the sealers. Every person that I know would gladly take a cash donation equivalent to what they would make sealing, and stay home and relax for that month every year.

BNB said...

No trouble shaking the nuts from the trees when you talk about the Seal Hunt. Of course they are easy to spot, they are the ones who constantly spout the same Watson-esque brochure drivel that we've heard since the 70s: "baby seals - skinned alive - baby seals skinned alive". Either they are Vegan and use no animal products at all in their daily consumption (in which case they are a slim minority) or they are hypocrites and should keep their burger holes closed. If you can't find Newfoundland and Labrador on a map keep out of the discussion.

A side note on the brilliance of Capt. Watson - his recently announced "Canadian" Tour included MICHIGAN ?! but excludes Newfoundland and Labrador. Guttless and stupid at the same time.

BNB

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

BNB--The folks that support the slaughter always resort to insults, I have found since I became involved earlier this year. I don't qualify for any of your arrogant or is it ignorant criteria.

Well, I have heard a total of approximately 19M. About 4,000 sealers at $50 pelt.

I am sorry for the poverty but it does not justify being a barbarian.

Actually, a decent idea about trading the money spent to stop the "hunt" to feeding families. If you are actually sincere, why not propose it to your government?

NL-ExPatriate said...

Taken from the DFO's department of Fisheries and Oceans web site.

"The seal hunt is an economically viable activity and is not subsidized by the Government of Canada."

Someone is lying here? I tend to believe a federal government agency.

MrChills said...

“Actually, a decent idea about trading the money spent to stop the "hunt" to feeding families. If you are actually sincere, why not propose it to your government?

Propose it to our government?

How does opening your hand and looking for more government handouts help our poor poverty stricken economy? The various hypercritical movements in the animal world seem to steal money easily enough from the naive population for the protest. Are you trying to tell me, that if the fishermen stopped legally hunting seals, people would still fund these bogus fundraising institutions?

Who are you trying to fool anyway? Yourself perhaps - because you are not fooling anyone out there that can think for their selves.

There are not too many fishermen out there that would not stop hunting if the average Hollywood twit sent them up a yearly cheque to stay home. However, that’s not the real issue at hand.

The baby seal is a cash cow for corrupt organizations to spread their propaganda to people with nothing better to do. The majority of the industrial world is being brainwashed by our many modes of media and the Save the Seals racket is a prime example of this.

Stay away from Canadian because they kill seals? Think about it… because we legally and humanely hunt seals, tourists should stay away! To be quite honest, you and any other pathetic war monger from the United States Embarrassment, take a long look at yourself before you judge us.

Newfoundland sealers hunted an estimated 320,000 seals last year (7 million total in the herd). How many families in the world were affected in a negative way by this number? Now on the other hand, the USA has MURDERED about that many HUMAN BEINGS, since their current illegal occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan and soon to be Syria or Iran (perhaps Dick and Dubya will flip a coin, or a bag or pretzels to make a decision on that next choice).

35,000 - That’s the number of people that lost their job overnight due to the cod moratorium. Another piece of trivia to put in your pipe and smoke is the fact that this was the greatest layoff in Canadian history. Don’t worry; the Dominion has never admitted to that fact though.

119,788 - Would be the total number of people to loss their job overnight in your great state of Nebraska, if a similar layoff occurred… On another note, do you think any of those people eat beef, chicken and pig on a daily basis?

70,000 - That number is an estimation of the number of people who have left Newfoundland over the past 15 years. How many families and communities do you think have been destroyed due to this mass out migration?

Where was MacGyver when the Northern Cod was near extinction? Was Paris Hilton’s name tagged to the Human Society when the species that supported a very way of life for nearly 500 years disappeared?

There is something else on the verge of disappearing too - a culture that shaped and opened put down the first building blocks of North America.

This entire racket… for a bunch of god damn swiles… The world has lost it, I am quite sure of it…

crazyamerican said...

While certainly a controversial area, the topic that Miles write about is not directly the seal hunt itself. Or at least that's not how I read the article.

What I took away from the original article was that in essence, Mr. Watson appears to make a very good living on the basis of a social issue, and in ways which may at an abolute minimum violate US federal law, IRS regulations and what is likely the most important, violating the trust of people who actually believe in the causes he espouses.

But apparently, the vitriol on every issue precludes people from actually thinking about what it being written.

There is a high degree of controversy about seal hunting. I would not be stupid enough to deny it. But what is not understood or given appropriate consideration is that people's lives are impacted directly by these social issues, first in the marketplace. Then to compound the impact, the resulting governmental actions are enacted by others who do not have to bear the repercussions.

The writer from Nebraska mistated a number of statistics. Example, 4,000 sealers at $50 a pelt. The $50 dollars a pelt is not what is paid to the producer. Even using the numbers presented of 4000 sealers for a gross of 19M (all of which I suspect are slanted heavily if not completely innacurate numbers), the actually money comes to $4750 per sealer on average. And these are for proud people who don't want a handout. This is a subsistence industry for the most part especially in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I came across multiple sites where large numbers are used as a cudgel to claim how inhumane the sealers are. But the large numbers don't appear to be supported by an extravagent lifestyle. Look at the unemployment numbers across the province and the annual income figures.

Direct sales of seal products have certainly been impacted based on animal rights activism. So do not expect people who depend on this as a source of income for their families to think highly of the activists.

But, how much are the activists willing to recognize that the ecology itself is based on a balance between cod, seals and the outports?

By ignoring the reality of the people who live and die on the basis of the very marine ecosystem activists are supposedly trying to protect strikes me as an exercise designed to cause animosity and enmity, not solutions. And you might be surprised to find how many of the supplements you take on a daily or weekly basis have any number of oils and vitamins and additives which come from species high on the activists lists. Why? Because they've been found to be beneficial.

Of course, perhaps it's human nature for people to want to tell others what they can and cannot do, especially when you have to pay little or no price to yourself or your family. In my own way, I admit I am doing the same thing now. But however ineptly, I at least am willing to actually submit thoughts not slogans.

But what I would wish others would take away from this scribbling is that you cannot remove a people's livelihood, then suggest perhaps paying them to take scraps from your table and expect them to like it, nor to give even a modicum of attention to your reasoning. Especially when you don't have to worry about how your going to get through the next season

Patriot said...

Thanks for all the wonderful comments folks. It's always nice to view all sides of any issue.

To C-American specifically (I still refuse to call you Crazy) Great insights as ususal and you are indeed correct when you say this article has absolutely nothing to do with the seal hunt but rather with the financial operations and activities of a non-profit organization.

Marie in Huskerland:

I always welcome people with opposing view points but in your most recent comment you say "The folks that support the slaughter always resort to insults".

Some people may. I don't feel that I have done this to you on even one occasion, however you on the other hand keep referring to the hunters as "Barbarians". This to me is an insulting term.

BNB said...

My apologies to Marie. It is not hard to ruffle a Newfoundlander's feathers with terms like "killing defenseless animals and skinning most of them alive", "baby seals" and "barbarian". These are specific terms I have heard for decades and it is the direct product of a very successful marketing campaign.

I have heard Capt. Watson speak on a couple of occasions (for free). His information is sparce in substance, and high in rhetoric. He knows how to compell the masses and this is his greatest success. On arguments of facts he cannot adequately defend himself. Why is he not visiting Quebec or Newfoundland and Labrador on his speaking engagement? Quite simply no one is more knowledgeable about the seal issue than the people of these provinces.

Consider the context of Mile's article. What we have is very much a battle of class-ism. Who are the faces of the seal hunt opposition? They are the faces of the American Elite. Miles article is important in this distinction, Capt. Watson is a wealthy man, a wealth made at the hands of tireless volunteers and contributors. Like yourself Marie. The speaking tour I spoke of charges $5 and $10 a head to hear Mr. Watson's words. He has to maintain his standard of living even when the seal hunt is not a current news issue. Why is his attention not focused elsewhere at this point in time? The Seal hunt is his bread and butter...

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

This not about Paul Watson. The opposition to Canada's seal hunt is truly global. Our original network has been expanded by a number of other organizations. Collectively, these groups represent tens of millions of individuals worldwide.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
Fund for Animals
Greenpeace
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Asian, Australian, and United Kingdom branches of Humane Society International (HSI)
World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
International Wildlife Coalition (IWC)
Born Free Foundation
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Animal Protection Institute (API)
Bellerive Foundation
Earth Island Institute
Respect for Animals
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
Nova Scotia Humane Society
Vancouver Humane Society
Global Action Network
GAIA
Brigitte Bardot Foundation
Harpseals.org
Organization International pour la Protection des Animaux
FundaciĆ³n Altarriba
Animal Alliance
Environment Voters
Eurogroup for Animal Welfare
Svoboda Zvirat (Freedom for Animals)
Anima
Animalia
Fondation 30 Millions d'Amis
One Voice
Vier Pfoten e.V.
Compassion in World Farming (CIWF)
AGA (Amo gli Animali)
LAV (Lega Anti Vivisezione)
Bont Voor Dieren (Fur For Animals)
Dyrevernalliansen (Norwegian Animal Welfare Alliance)
Animal
VITA
ANDA (Asociacion Nacional Para la Defensa de los Animales)
Animal Rights Sweden
STS/PSA (Schweizer Tierschutz/Protection Suisse des Animaux)
CETA (Life)
Marchig Animal Welfare Trust
Ocean Futures Society
Marine Mammal Center

Anonymous said...

Bogus information and allegations to defend the indefensible. Your so called facts were compiled by the Fur Commission USA and they certainly have a vested interest in slandering organizations like Sea Shepherd.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Afraid your living in the past Marie, it's time to update your list.
I'll get back to you on this one.

Patriot said...

Let me get this straight Anonymous. You call these facts into question because a fur lobby group helped gather them. Even though we have IRS records, county records and other information to back it up. Yet you believe Watson and Sea Shepherd when they spread their brand of truth about Atlantic Canada and the seal hunt. I take it from this that you believe they don't have a vested interest in spreading mis-information.

That my friend deserves a reality check.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Seal Hunt put into perspective.
http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/Prefs.asp?video=meet_your_meat

Wake up call, killing any animal, mammal fish, what ever isn't pretty. Now wastage thats a different story.
Unsustainable killing is another story. Interferring with ecology thinking your god and know whats best for the environment is just plain stupid. These seal protestors are just sheep being feed aline not unlike Hitler did in Germany. Half truths or half lies in this case are still lies.

It's about time people realized their meat doesn't come from a styrofoam tray but was at one time a living breathing creature.
Now if you want to talk about inhumne killing go to a slaughter house just because the killing is disconnected from humans doesn't make anymore humane. Then theres the animal factories that is what these animal rights groups should be targeting not born free died free seals.
Pull the head off A chicken and let it go it will run around headless for 1-2 minutes squirting blood everywhere.
Pork=Pig
Bacon=Pig
Beef=Cow
Veal=Baby Cow

How would Americans feel if India protested about the treatment and killing of their sacred (God)animal the cow?

ISDABY said...

what people have to realise is that at the core of the seal hunt protest are fanatical Animal Rights Activists who will do/say whatever it takes to get the wider portions of society to go along with their agenda. The seal hunt is only one of their causes...and with their particular brand of so-called 'truth', misrepresentation, colourful illustrations (some are very cartoonish and vivid as if portraying a scene from the Bambi animated feature...), and even out and out lies (common for Watson...), they trick many people into going along with them. For instance ,most of these organisations frame their campaigns around the premise that it is 'inherently' cruel and barbaric to club a seal...whereas research shows that clubbing is comparable to any other meat/slaughter industry in its effeciency and quick death (as in 'humane'). They also go on about the IFAW sponsored 'independant' veterinary study in 2001, that concluded that up to 42% of seals studied could have been skinned alive. Yet they do everythig they can to discredit another study by Doust et al of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), that shows htat only 2% might have been killed inhumanely, yet supports increases improvements in the industry...monitoring, enforcement, etc.
(its worth taking the time to really read and compare both studies...)

SO, when Animal Rights groups go on speaking tours, or hand out leaflets, or lobby foreign governments, they highlight their own onesided , misrepresentive points of view as if it were hte gospel, undisputed truth..."baby seals skinned alive, by barbaric men with cruel clubs..."....and so on, so joe blow in a US or EU city with no other connection to the issue (or of killing any animals for that matter, other than consuming the end product) is easily taken in.

This is done to many industries, although seal hunt makes an easier target because of the 'cuteness' factor and the 'idle rich/luxury' factor...

If people could stick to issues that really matter, such as maybe 2% of 950,000 seals is still alot of animals to suffer cruel deaths, and that perhaps we need to see enforcement stepped up a bit and a further reduction of 'alleged cruelty'...I think that 99.9% humane is a reachable target. The only way to shut down these protests (although they will never be fully shut down) is to proove them wrong ...with science, monitoring and education...when hte facts become 'irrefutable' they will stand up for themselves. For now, I value highly the work done by the CVMA, but it needs to be repeated in such a manner that it can't be denied by ARAs.

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Boy, you pro-sealer folks will say just about anything, it seems.

Attach a site to the CVMA that comes up with only 2% vs 42%, won't you?

This is not about farm animals. The issue here is the barbaric slaughter of baby animals who can not flee in Canada. Not India, not the U.S. It is not about Paul Watson and his tax returns. Nor is it about Hitler (now that was creative!!)

It is not about science and monitoring. I am always open to education so bring it on.

It just needs to stop. Once again, it is a huge black eye to Canada and no amount of rhetoric will change that.

NL-ExPatriate said...

OK if your such an open mind what is the solution?
Kill only older seals.
To allow for the propagation of the species. Only allow for a hunt of older seals. The hunt could actually become larger and still be self sustaining if a policy like this were adopted. Win Win.
Apparently seals don't breed until they are 5 years of age and live to be 30 years of age? I'm guessing that they have a prime breeding age from the age of 5 years to 15 years.

I think this may actually be an option. Similar to taking only the roe from the capelin being a self defeating policy.

Once again use Factory Slaughter Ship/houses to utilize all of the seals being killed and ensure humane killing practices.
I can agree that nothing should be left to rot, either it is all used rendered for animal or fish food or the hunt should stop until such a time that wastage is eliminated.

There seems to be an impass and very little searching for solutions on both sides!

I might even join you in your protests to implement changes like I've suggested.

Anonymous said...

an outport family can survive on an income of $15,000.00 or less in this province and part of that income is made from a seal harvest.it's hard for someone to understand why some of us have to do this type of work to survive.survive we well!we have done it for hundreds of years and i don't care how the world perceives my relatives and family for doing it.no different then a texas cattle farmer or poultry producer in ontario producing for mcdonalds or wendys.it's a job and the only difference is that money is being made taking photos of blood on the ice.i don't think chicken blood or cattle blood would be as profitable for mr. watsons group.
w.osmond,NL

ISDABY said...

to Marie in Huskerland, here is the CVMA link. SOrry , should have included it before. Please note too , that unlike what IFAW types say about this report (Ie: that it is biased because the sealers are on their best behaviour...), only a 'portion' of it was conducted on a sealing vessel where 'best behaviour' is to be expected. They compare their results (examinations of skulls of seals killed before they came around), with those of the IFAW study, and they reviewed the same video footage as did IFAW and came up with a significantly lower number of violations.

Read the report and make your own assessment.


http://canadianveterinarians.net/Documents/Resources/Files/130_Seal%20Hunt%20Report.pdf

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Anonyous--how do you sleep at night?

Patriot said...

To Marie:

I'm sure Anon sleeps quite well.

If "how do you sleep at night" is the only arguement you can muster up then I'm sorry but the battle is lost for you.

One thing I have noticed about animal rights activists is that they do not like to listen to opposing views and they always see the world in black and white.

In reality, the world is not blak and white but subtle shades of grey. Nothing is clear cut, as much as you may want to believe it in a world where you are removed from an issue.

I have also learned to not argue with these people since they will never see another side to the issues. Rather I would prefer to reach out to the general population who have not been brain washed by people like Paul Watson.

Marie, just for your benefit, please remember that this site is accessed by about 30% Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans, 30% Other Canadians and 30% U.S.

(give or take 3 or 4 %)

Yet if you will notice, you are the only person commenting who does not see these complexities. Think about what that may mean.

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Patriot--we may disagree on the complexities. Perhaps it is you that is you and your local readership that are so far in the trees that you can not see the forrest.

I am reviewing the vet reported cited here and comparing to the IFAW report.

You seem rather fixated on Watson. There are plenty of other organizations working on ending the seal "hunt."

I do have another question. Can you explain the details around the red tape associated with observing and photographing from the ice. What is the purpose of this and do you have those requirements handy.

I do agree with you on the masses. Studies show, which I have cited, that they are very much against the slaughter.

Just had a plumber leave my house. Simple meat eating, seafood loving guy. Disgusted this was still going on and thought it ended decades ago. Why, mostly because it is not about food but vanity. He left with material to send in.

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Soory about the spelling and typos...and I was quite sincere about my question to Anon.

Patriot said...

Marie:

I don't mean this as a slight, but I will say that this will most likely be my last reply to your comments. The reason is simple. I have other stories to work on ( not related to Sea Shepherrd) and I know there is no convincing you of my point of view.

Having said this, I am not fixated on Sea Shepherd, it is simply that Paul Watson and his ilk, in my opinion are misrepresenting the truth and manipulating the public.

As for getting close to photograph the seal hunt, this is quite simple. Number one, I doubt you have ever walked on sea ice but it is a very fluid and dangerous environment. Simply put, any distraction of the sealers or anyone else on the ice is a distraction that could cause the loss of life.

Secondly, if Paul Watson or anyone else who wants to take a picture of the hunt has never heard of a telephoto lens (some of which can take very clear photos from as far away as half a mile) that is not the sealers problem.

Thanks for the comments and as I've said before, I may not agree with you, but I feel that there is no better solution to any problem than open debate.

Myles

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Here is part of an analysis of the 2 vet reports done by IFAW. Hard to stomach reading any of this, it makes me absolutely sick.

Would be happy to share the whole thing. The facts speak for themselves.

The fact that you folks can defend these actions is reprehensible.


"Much pain and suffering associated with the seal hunt
could be alleviated if sealers confirmed immediately that all seals
clubbed or shot are unconscious before they are left on the ice,
bled or skinned, or hooked and dragged to another location,
such as a sealing vessel. To ensure that animals are unconscious,
sealers should touch the eyeball to check for a corneal reflex –
this is now required by Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations
– as quickly as possible after clubbing or shooting a seal. If the
animal still exhibits a corneal reflex, it should be rendered
unconscious as quickly as possible, either by clubbing it again or
by shooting.
Clearly, this does not happen very often. Burdon et al.
found that 79% of the sealers they observed did not check for a
corneal reflex. Daoust et al.’s figure was even higher – 87%. It
is not surprising, therefore, that video records of Canada’s seal
hunt for the years 1998-2001 inclusive all show numerous
instances where animals were clubbed or shot and not rendered
immediately unconscious. From the video evidence under
review, the estimated proportion of animals in this category
ranges from a minimum of 11% (Daoust et al.) to about 40%
(Burdon et al.). If such percentages are at all typical of the
Canadian hunt, they suggest that 26,000 to 96,000 harp seal
pups annually are not rendered immediately unconscious after
being clubbed or shot, but rather are left to suffer for some time
before being killed.
Coincidentally or not, these figures are not very different
from the data provided in Burdon et al. from post-mortem
examination of skulls from seals killed in the hunt. If their
results are in any way representative of the entire hunt, they
would suggest that somewhere between 41,000 and 100,000+
animals are skinned while still conscious.
Together, the two reports also document that a number of
animals each year are hooked and dragged across the ice while
still conscious and some of these are still alive by the time they
reach the decks of sealing vessels.
Collectively, the two reports are essentially consistent with
observations documented by IFAW for the 1995 and 1996
Canadian commercial seal hunts. As noted Canadian lawyer,
Clayton Ruby has observed:
“IFAW’s videotaped evidence underscores the fact that
the rules intended to govern the hunt are difficult (perhaps
impossible) to enforce and are routinely ignored
by sealers. Canada needs to act quickly if it is to maintain
its international reputation as a humane society.”
Daoust et al.’s conclusion that “the large majority of seals taken
during this hunt (at best, 98% in work reported here) are killed
in an acceptably humane manner” is not supported by the data
presented in their report, unless of course, these authors have a
very narrow view of what constitutes “an acceptably humane
4
manner.” Regardless, even they concluded that the
“…proportion of animals that are not killed effectively justifies
continued attention to this hunt on the part of the veterinary
profession”.
Daoust et al. also concluded that, “Ultimately, the quality
of the seal hunt will depend on appropriate and enforceable
regulations, adequate supervision and monitoring by DFO
officers, and the training and ethics of the sealers”. IFAW’s
unpublished evidence from Canada’s commercial seal hunt since
2001 (the last year discussed in this review) indicates that the
situation has not improved in recent years. After viewing
footage of the 2004 seal hunt at the recent Council of Europe
Hearing on Seal Hunting, a Norwegian expert – and a
proponent of sealing and whaling – noted that the sealing
practices recorded on the film would not be permitted in
Norway. The fact that the Canadian Department of Fisheries
and Oceans nonetheless continues to cite a small part of the
Daoust et al. report to deceive people that “virtually all seals
taken during the hunt are in fact killed in a humane manner”4
indicates a complete lack of political will to ensure that this
anachronistic hunt meets the animal welfare standards expected
of Canada in the 21st century.
David M. Lavigne8
Science Advisor
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Notes & Sources
1 Burdon, R., J. Gripper, J.A. Longair, I. Robinson, and D. Ruehlmann.
2001. Observation of the Canadian Commercial Seal Hunt. Prince
Edward Island, Canada. Report of an International Veterinary Panel,
March 2001. 36 pp.
2 Daoust, P.-V., A. Crook, T.K. Bollinger, K.G. Campbell, and J. Wong.
2002. Animal welfare and the harp seal hunt in Atlantic Canada.
Special Report. Canadian Veterinary Journal, 43: 687-694. (Note:
according to the Instructions to Authors, Special Reports in the
Canadian Veterinary Journal are not peer reviewed, see
http://www.canadianveterinarians.net/vetjournals/cvj/instructions.html#1.)
3 For example, the International Fund for Animal Welfare often claims
that “42% of killed seals examined were found to have minimal or no
fractures, suggesting a high probability that these seals were conscious
when skinned” (From the IFAW website:
http://www.ifaw.org/ifaw/general/default.aspx?oid=85064. Accessed 13
December 2004). Similarly, the Humane Society of the United States
(HSUS) states, “An alarming number of the seals are skinned while alive
and conscious. Recently, an independent, international team of
veterinarians observed the hunt, and examined the corpses of skinned
seals. They found evidence that up to 40% of seals were skinned while
still able to feel pain” (From the HSUS website,
http://www.protectseals.org. Accessed 13 December 2004).
4 DFO repeatedly claims, for example, that,”A recent report published
by the Canadian Veterinary Journal concluded 98% of harp seals are
killed in what veterinarians describe as an acceptably humane manner”
(Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2003. UNDERSTANDING SEALS &
SEALING IN CANADA. FACTS ABOUT SEALS 2003. Fisheries
and Oceans Canada.
Available at: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/facts-faits/factsfaits20032005_
e.htm#HUMANE%20HARVESTING).
Other examples include: “A study by independent members of the
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association found that virtually all seals
taken during the hunt are in fact killed in a humane manner” (Fisheries
and Oceans Canada. 2004. UNDERSTANDING SEALS & SEALING
IN CANADA. Six Facts About Canada’s Seal Hunt. Available at:
http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/facts-faits/factsheet_e.htm) and
“A recent report published by the Canadian Veterinary Journal
concluded virtually all harp seals are killed in what veterinarians describe
as an acceptably humane manner” (Fisheries and Oceans
Canada. 2004. UNDERSTANDING SEALS & SEALING IN
CANADA. FACTS ABOUT SEALS 2004 - 2005. Available at:
http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/facts-faits/factsfaits2004_
e.htm#HUMANE%20HARVESTING). The most recent
example appears in a letter to the editor of the National Post, 7 January
2005, p. A15, under the signature of David Bevan, Assistant Deputy
Minister, Fisheries and Aquaculture Management, Fisheries and Oceans
Canada.
5 Hammill, M.O. and G.B. Stenson. 2003. Harvest simulations for
2003-2006 harp seal management plan. CSAS Research Document
2003/068. Available at: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/csas/Csas/ English/
Research_Years/2000/R_D00_e.htm.
6 Note: There is a error in the Daoust et al.’s Table 2. The “do not agree”
column adds up to 30, not 27; whereas the “agree column” adds up to
10, not 13. I have assumed that the text is correct: that the “agreed”
total is actually 13. The text also says that “Three seals were clearly shot
and subsequently lost (p. 691) so I assume that these 3 seals should be
placed in the “agree” column, rather than in the “do not agree” column.
7 International Fund for Animal Welfare. 1996. Canada’s seal hunt. It’s
not just cruel…it’s criminal. An IFAW Investigative Report. IFAW
Canada, Ottawa. 23 pp.
8 Dr David Lavigne has conducted research on harp seals since 1969.
He has observed the hunt on a number of occasions and, in 1973, acted
as an official observer for the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.
From 1973-1996 he was a zoology professor at the University of Guelph,
Canada. He is co-author of Harps & Hoods: Ice-breeding Seals of the
Northwest Atlantic (University of Waterloo Press: 1988) and a longstanding
member of IUCN’s Seal Specialist Group. He recently
appeared as an invited expert before the Council of Europe’s Hearing on
Seal Hunting (see Lavigne, D.M. 2004. Notes for a presentation to The
Hearing on Seal Hunting, Committee on the Environment, Agriculture
and Local and Regional Affairs, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe. 5 October 2004. Strasbourg, France. 6 pp).
© IFAW
January 2005

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Refute this for the masses...

http://www.hsus.org/web-files/PDF/seals/Protect-Seals-Boycott-Bro.pdf

ISDABY said...

Marie,

have you read CVMA? or do you prefer to get the 'coles notes' version from IFAW and Lavigne? Somewhere in your posted article someone is saying that the data Daust had done just doesnt support the conclusion that 98% of the animals in their study were killed humanely...funny that, since it was a peer reviewed report, in a highly respected publication. IF they were 'fudging it', it would have been picked up in 2002, before it was published. It seems typical that rather than challenge Daoust on the issues that make the difference between his report nad the IFAW report, such as the swim reflex, and that there is evidence that proves that seals can be unconsciuous, not feel a damn thing, yet their skulls might not be totally smashed. That is the differnce between douast and IFAW report. IFAW dismisses the Swim reflex , Daoust et al dont, IFAW assumes that where the skull is not smashed the seal could have regained consciousness, Douast et al discuss similarities to other studies where brain damage has resulted in unconsciousness and even death in the absence of skull fractures. Opponents usually just find some way to deny the credibility of their work rather than address these issues in a scientific manner.

as for the recommendations, I don't think any credible person out there actually thinks that everything is perfect and there is no need to improve anything...there is alway room for improvement but thats not enough to 'shut her down'....

as for blink testing, clearly its what a sealer should do to verify death, but when they neglect to do so, doesn't mean that the seal is not dead. they are two different allegations. And, I would like to point out that old videos are not relevant to todays hunt, and one reason is that some of the footage from 2005, where HSUS (?) was claiming the viscious sealer was being cruel , the tape actually showed the guy taking 2-3 whacks (as recommended) then checking the blink reflex (as required) before moving on to the next seal.

The point is, things are changing. Old footage only shows old violations (if even that).

Cheers

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Isdaby,

Yes, I read the CVMA. However, I have decided after reading Watson's reply on the "Protester's" blog that engaging in hairsplitting and spending large amounts of time researching tiny facts trying to disprove the other side is a waste of precious time.

My time is better spent creating awareness with the general public, who thought this ended decades ago. That fact proves true time and time again. The general public does not care about all this detail. Once aware, they think the practice should stop. It is just that simple. Try as you all might, you can't change that.

Thanks for the audience. Chow.

ISDABY said...

Marie.

so, what are the hair splitting details that don't matter to the public? that you don't think are worth discussing? - only wether or not a significant number of seals are actually conscious when skinned ...of course you and the movement prefer to by pass that discussion because it will hurt your propaganda. And that's why so much more effort is put into trying to discredit the information, rather than to debate it... ARA's, SSCS and HSUS, etc are only interested in creating and magnifying the image of intense cruelty, wether or not seals are 'actually' skinned alive, or if they are all killed absolutely pain free. Your propaganda doesn't need to deal with the 'facts' or the 'truth'.

Truth is that far fewer seals are skinned alive, or conscious , than you like the unwashed masses to know. Truth only gets in your way.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Poor misguided Marie the sheep!

You continue to let Paul burn books discrediting his views and publish books that promote his views!

Does this book burning and self proclaimation sound familiar?

Hitler and every other tyrant in history comes to mind. A Wolf in sheeps clothing leading the flock.

The truth shall prevail!
Your bloody war coffers be damned!

Marie in Huskerland, USA said...

Goodness!

Don't you realize that in terms of opposition, the "masses" think it should stop regardless of how many are skinned alive, even though it further illustrates the brutality? They shouldn't be killed and skinned at all.

ISDABY said...

Marie says, <...the "masses" think it should stop regardless of how many are skinned alive...>,I beg to differ. I expect that the 'masses' who are being picked up to help support the anti-sealing movement are infact concerned by how many may or may not be skinned alive, and its that element of the propaganda which is directed at them...how many times is the statement 'seals skinned alive' repeated in the antisealing literature? that statement is front and center with every press release or 'testament of support'. Its only the confirmed Animal rights activists who don't give a damn wether the seals are actually suffering or not. this is reflected in the polls...didn't a recent DFO sponsored poll show a majority of canadians are 'okay' with a humane and sustainable hunt...that's why the 'skinned alive' thing is flogged. If it doesn't mean much, why use it?

Nicky said...

And from Australia - we support any boycott on anything Canadian because this argument is about horrendous cruelty - not about sustinence, practices in other countries (and Australia has much to be ashamed of too), slaughterhouses, or the bank balances of the people in question. The IFAW contributor has confirmed my opinion that we are dealing with savage sadists here, it is not about "feeding their families". Clearly they cannot be bothered confirming that these unfortunate baby animals are unconscious or dead before skinning them, and in any moral person's language, their is absolutely no justification for that. Discrediting those who week an end to such gratuitous cruelty does you no favours. (And to Marie - well done!)

BNB said...

nicky from Australia. If you drilled a hole directly through the earth from the Capitol of Newfoundland and Labrador you would end up somewhere off the coast of Eastern Australia. You are as far away from this arguement, literally and figuratively as one could be. This is a very easy battle for you to choose, as it is with our American Friend. Physician heal thyself.

ISDABY said...

Nicky in Australia;

<...this argument is about horrendous cruelty ... The IFAW contributor has confirmed my opinion that we are dealing with savage sadists here, it is not about "feeding their families". Clearly they cannot be bothered confirming that these unfortunate baby animals are unconscious or dead before skinning them, and in any moral person's language, their is absolutely no justification for that. ..>

it would seem that you read the Anti-sealing literature and no more. Otherwise you would know that sealers, while not doing it for 'bare survival', do indeed do it to put food on their family tables. They are fishermen , who fish whats in season. Late winter/early spring there is no other fishery so they take advantage of the seal hunt as their forefathers have done for generations. This is not to say that seals are fish, or that they do it because its a 'tradition' but to give a perspective as to whos doing it and why.

As for 'savage sadists', one would have to assume that sealers intentionally skin seals alive to qualify for this glowing tribute...but the fact of the matter is that very few are skinned alive. NOt accounting for the few sickos that might be out there (as they are everywhere), its been shown that most seals are killed in a humane manner comparable to the better slaughterhouses in North America. The CVMA report posted above, discusses this. CVMA and IFAW reports both discuss how use of legal clubs or hakapiks, used properly, is an effective and humane method of killing a seal.

CVMA report also discusses that just because a skull isn't smashed doesn't mean that the seal wasn't dead or unconscious, they show that there is evidence that clubbed seals, even when skull isn't smashed, were likely dead or unconscious when skinned due to 'brain damage'...IFAW went the opposite way to conclude that in the absence of smashed skull they can only assume that the seal could have regained consciousness while being skinned. Hence anti-sealing groups continuouslt chime '42% skinned alive' which is inaccurate.

As well, the CVMA report discusses how many seals that are seen to be 'moving' while being skinned are in fact displaying 'swim reflex'...the involuntary nervous muscle twitching of a DEAD animal...even describing how one could tell the involuntary twitching from deliberate movement of a live seal. Whereas, the IFAW vets report simply says that they can not trust to be able to distinguish dead, involuntary twitching, from deliberate movements of live seals. SO, they simply assume if it moves its alive.

As for chcking the blink reflex, which is required to 'ensure' death, and is best to do, to be certain. Simply put, as important as it is, its just a test that when its not done, does not mean that the seal is not dead, just that they have confirmed its dead. Now consider that most experienced sealers (for which training and licencing is required), having given the 2-3 regulation whacks, can recognise that the seal is dead, and even though they should check the blink, they may just skip it...knowing from experience (backed up by findings of the CVMA report...) that the seal is a goner ...not checking the blink is more akin to not coming to a 'full stop' at a stop sign than say 'running the stop sign'...that said, sealers should always check the blink to remove any doubt. That said too, it doesnt really matter awhole lot anyways...I have seen footage from 2005 claiming the sealer was being horrendous and cruel when in fact he was going 'by the book' including checkign the blink reflex.

Anyone , not a devoted Animal rightist, should at least do a little research, and not just form their opinions based on what the IFAW, HSUS, SSCS tell you. Otherwise your a candidate to buy 'swamp land' in Florida...

ISDABY said...

to Patriot. please see attached article re: Greenpeace. It might come in handy some time.

And, there is a audio clip around somewhere (had it but lost it) of an interview (Barbara Frum) with Paul Watson in 1978, when he 'left' or was booted out of Greenpeace. In this interview he states unequivocably that they exploit the cuteness factor of the whitecoats, and that the harp seal population IS NOT threatened in any way by the commercial seal hunt...abit of a turn around would'nt you think?

I've been looking for the link, if I ever find it again I will post it on your Blog.

Keep up the good work!

http://www.activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/oid/131

NL-ExPatriate said...

Second response from the IRS.

IRS Acknowledgement:

This is in response to the inquiry you submitted through our web site at
http://www.irs.gov. Due either to unusual demand or the nature of your
question, we have not been able to respond within the normal time. Please
accept our apology for the delay. We will respond as quickly as our resources
allow. Thank you for your patience.

Please do not send a reply to this message. If you have another question,
please return to our web site at: http://www.irs.gov to submit it.

I emailed your article to the IRS awhile back. I hope you don't mind ? This is the second such response I've received.

I'm flattered they responded at all.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Patriot, that "report" was pretty crap. Wrong references, whether you apologise for them or not, are a clear sign of shoddy workmanship. That wasn't a personal attack, it's an attack on the validity of your work.

To all who ranted (I know my post is late):

I am curious, both sides of the "seal hunt argument" seem to be lacking correct, reliable, unbiased information. Where is the research that is not funded or conducted by biased groups (ie animal rights groups, or fur lobby groups)? Where is the fuel for this fire? I find it interesting that even the Canadian Government can't be trusted to conduct unbiased polling (ie, associating aboriginal groups with this non-aboriginal practice, or by cleverly getting a Veterinarian's society to conduct "research" which to me looks like a thinly veiled attempt to associate animal well-being with the "research"). I also resent animal rights groups for making environmentalists look like irrational, emotional, and misguided individuals. The fact remains that I need to make up my own mind about the seal hunt, but neither side is doing a good job of convincing or clarifying. My government does not represent me(they are conservative afterall), animal rights groups do not represent me because I fight for environmental conservation not for "cute defenseless babies", and pro-sealers don't appeal to my values of tradition because I know Maritime history. So who do I turn to for valid information? Sadly, all of you just keep using the same fallacies on each other, and keep recycling "arguments". The most frustrating thing is that a person who wants to question the seal hunt is immediately lumped into the environmentally radical group, when really I am merely interested in seeing the economic realities of the hunt. Do the Maritime people forget that they are living off of my taxes? I have every right to question the sustainability of the hunt, and whether it really is lucrative or not, so that I can question the governments treatment of the east. I don't know why pro-sealers try to appeal to my sympathy (ie "it puts food on poor families tables), because, quite frankly there are many illegal activities (ie theft) that put food on people's tables. Under that logic, I should support any action that brings food to the table (that's not going to happen). My point is that, pro-sealers should stop relying on sympathy, and stop debating ethics and just convince me with cold hard facts. Anti-sealers need to do this as well, because they are just as misrepresented and scattered as ever.