Seal hunt protester turns himself in, announces plan for hunger strike

Dr. Jerry Vlasak of California chooses jail over paying fine for seal hunt violation.

By Editorial Staff
The Guardian

One of 11 seal hunt protesters convicted earlier this year of coming illegally close to the 2005 seal hunt has surrendered himself to authorities to begin serving a 22-day jail term.

Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a California trauma surgeon, has opted to serve time at the Provincial Correctional Centre rather than pay a $1,000 fine imposed by provincial court Judge Nancy Orr.

Vlasak, a highly controversial figure in the animal rights movement, said he would not pay the fine as long as the federal government continues to support and promote the seal hunt.

While awaiting transport to jail he took the opportunity to restate his opposition to the hunt, saying the hunt was both cruel and unnecessary and existed solely to provide pelts to make articles of clothing for the rich.

Vlasak is the first of the protesters to turn himself in and begin serving his sentence.

John Mitchell, legal counsel for the high-profile animal rights activist, said he’s aware of plans by several of those arrested with Vlasak to turn themselves in and serve their respective sentences.

But none of those individuals have advised Mitchell when they intend to return to Charlottetown.

Vlasak and his co-accused were members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and at the time charges were laid they were serving as crew aboard the society’s ship Farley Mowat.

They were convicted of illegally coming within half a nautical mile of seal hunters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on March 30, 2005.

Paul Watson, president of the society, was charged with the same offence, but won on the grounds that he was within his residence, the ship, the Farley Mowat.

Charges were laid after an altercation between seal hunters and Sea Shepherd crew documenting their harvest of young harp seals.