Paul Watson's response to the article "Seal hunt
supporters worry Beatle star power will have impact" by
Chris Morris, Canadian Press. Friday, March 03, 2006
CHARLOTTETOWN (CP) - Some supporters of Canada's annual
harp seal hunt grudgingly acknowledge that Paul McCartney's global
reach as a megastar could spell trouble for the
Captain Paul Watson: The visit to see the seals by Paul McCartney and
Heather Mills McCartney was a tremendous boost to the movement to
oppose the annual Canadian seal slaughter
Pictures of McCartney and his wife, Heather, frolicking with doe-eyed
seal pups on ice floes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence flashed around the
world this week, along with a strong anti-hunt message.
Captain Paul Watson: Great news
By late Friday, the McCartneys had wrapped up taping a heated debate on
the controversial hunt with Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams for
CNN's Larry King Live.
And in another interview with CTV News, McCartney compared the hunt to
the former slave trade.
"It was brutal and it was something that had to stop," he said, adding
the same is true for Canada's seal hunt.
Captain Paul Watson: This is a valid comparison.
Proponents of the hunt, including Williams and federal Fisheries
Minister Loyola Hearn, have said that anti-hunt activists like the
McCartneys don't understand how the hunt works and what it means to
Captain Paul Watson: I am from the Maritime Provinces. I was raised in
an East coast fishing community. I have been opposing the seal
slaughter for over 30 years. I fully understand how the hunt works and
what it means for Atlantic Canada and the rest of the Nation. I have
seen horrific cruelty on the ice. I have witnessed the waste, the unrecovered and unutilized bodies. I have a morecomplete knowledge of
the seals and the seal slaughter than most hunters and certainly more
than most politicians. I also noticed that Paul and Heather knew their
facts and articulated those facts quite effectively.
But the McCartneys said that's not true.
Captain Paul Watson: And they are right.
"I disagree," the former Beatle said as he headed into a room in a
Charlottetown hotel to tape the CNN show.
"We have a full grasp," added Heather Mills McCartney. "We wouldn't be
After the hour-long debate, Williams said Heather Mills McCartney had
attempted to interrupt him a number of times, and King had to act as
Captain Paul Watson: Williams also interupted Heather.
"But there's a point where people who don't respect Newfoundlanders and
Labradorians, and who don't treat us with respect, will get it back in
spades from me," he said. "I certainly wasn't going to allow the
McCartneys to dominate that interview."
Captain Paul Watson: To bad Danny. They did dominate the debate and
they made the Premier of Newfoundland look silly and unprepared.Danny
Williams and Newfoundland and Labrador are not deserving of respect. As
a Canadian I have absolutely no respect forNewfoundland and less
respect for the Premier of Newfoundland. Asking us to respect
Newfoundlanders is like asking us to have respect for the soldiers of
the Third Reich. The slaughter of the seals is horrifically cruel
andbloody. How can anyone respect these vicious and barbaric butchers
or anyone who supports this butchery?
Danny Williams must have a very inflated image of himself to even
suggest that hecan retaliate against Paul McCartney. The public is not
interested in Danny Williams' opinion of Paul and Heather McCartney,
but the public is very interested in the opinion of Paul and Linda
concerning the seal slaughter.
Williams suggested the pop icon duo were misinformed, noting that Paul
McCartney had thought his protest trip Thursday had taken him to
Newfoundland, when in fact he was in Prince Edward Island and later
Captain Paul Watson: Paul and Heather McCartney were in the same area
of the Gulf of St. Lawrence where the seal pups are slaughtered by
Newfoundlanders and Magdalen Islanders. I'm sure that if Danny Williams
was in Cornwall or Wales he would have referred to himself as being in
England. Would he have even known the distinction between Cornwall and
Devon or York or Kent. Paul knew where he was and he knew that he was
speaking with the Premier of Newfoundland and he addressed himself to
the Premier and made it clear that he was in the area where
Newfoundlanders killed the seals.
On the other hand Premier Danny Williams was misinformed. He suggested
that the International Fund for Animal Welfare supported the seal kill.
He mentioned Greenpeace as one of the opponents of the seal hunt and
Greenpeace has not opposed the seal hunt for 20 years. He claimed
falsly that anti-sealers were being investigated by the F.B.I. There is
no evidence of this. He called anti-sealer eco-terrorists without
providing any evidence. He even made reference to the sea hunt instead
of the seal hunt. He suggested that the seals were primarily killed
with riflesnot clubs. The seals that I see killed every year are
slaughtered with clubs or hak-a-piks. He said that seals are going up
fresh water rivers to feed. This is nonsense. He said that the cod were
wiped out by foreign draggers when the facts demonstrate that Canadian
draggers destroyed the fish. Williams stated that the seal meat was
utilized when we have observed that the carcasses are left on the
"They target us because we're a smaller province and it's a smaller
industry," the premier said after he emerged from a TV studio in St.
John's. "They're not going to take on the beef industry. A seal pup
makes a great photo op.
Captain Paul Watson: No one is targeting Newfoundland because they are
Newfoundland. The target is the commercial seal slaughter and it is
primarily carried out by Newfoundlanders although Prince Edward Island,
Nova Scotia and Quebec participate also. Prince Edward Island is a
smaller province. He is right to say it is a smaller industry and this
smaller industry threatens the survival of the large Canadian seafood
"They're not going to get their photo taken with a chicken. It's just
not a good photo op."
Captain Paul Watson: If Paul McCartney and his wifeHeather posed with
a snail, their picture would be taken. In fact they have posed with
farm animals and have spoken out in defense of humane treatment for
farm animals. It was not just a good photo op, it was an excellent
However, Jack Troake, a Newfoundland sealer with 55 years experience,
admitted that the arrival of the McCartneys on the protest scene is a
Troake has seen his share of protesters - from fur-clad B-movie stars
to radical vegans - but the McCartneys are in a class of their own when
it comes to star power.
Captain Paul Watson: I don't know of a single person who has opposed
the seal slaughter who wears fur. However Troake is right, the
McCartney's are indeed in a class of their own.
"I'm certainly concerned about this lad," said the Twillingate
fisherman, who can remember when French film star Brigitte Bardot
caused a sensation when she showed up to protest the fishery in 1972.
"He's a much more powerful person."
Hearn agreed, but made it clear the Canadian government wasn't
"If Paul McCartney thinks that he is going to stop the seal hunt, ahead
of him there's a long and winding road," Hearn said from Paris, where
he is attending an international conference.
Captain Paul Watson: It has been a long and winding road but the
opposition to the seal hunt will never surrender. Our movement is
growing each year and Canada's image is suffering more and more each
year. One side, our side is gaining and their side is losing so it may
be a long road down for us and a longer road up for them.
Meanwhile, Bardot emerged from seclusion Friday to slam the hunt.
"Seal hunters are killers," Bardot told Montreal all-news channel, LCN.
"Your country is a rich country and you are setting an appalling
example for the world."
Captain Paul Watson: Way to go Brigitte.
Rebecca Aldworth, spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United
States, which organized the McCartney visit, said the couple has given
the anti-seal campaign a significant global boost.
Captain Paul Watson: I agree with Rebecca completely on this.
"Paul and Heather McCartney are two of the most visible people in the
world and they are two of the strongest animal protection people in the
world," Aldworth said.
Jack McAndrew, a P.E.I. columnist who once covered the seal hunt as a
reporter, said that while the presence of the McCartneys is a comment
on the power of celebrity, he doubts it will have lasting impact.
"It'll be like everything else in this world, today's pictures are gone
tomorrow, replaced with real news about the tragedy of more people
being killed in Afghanistan," McAndrew said. "In three days, the
McCartneys will be forgotten."
Captain Paul Watson: Let me see Jack, Brigitte Bardot went to the ice
with me in 1977 and nearly three decades later everyone is still
talking about it so where does this ridiculous idea that this will be
forgotten in three days come from. I would think that a a media guy
would have a better understanding of media than this. I predict that
for as long as this slaughter continues, the tape of the McCartney's
speaking out against the killing will be distributed and aired over and
over and over again.
McAndrew said that as far as Atlantic Canadians are concerned, he's
convinced the McCartney visit will only stiffen resolve to carry on
with the hunt.
"The more Paul McCartneys come in here, the more stubborn we get," he
Captain Paul Watson: It is a stubbornessthat will cost Canada greatly.
If the sealers and the politicians choose to remain stubborn they will
suffer financially. Their stubborness is a luxury they cannot continue
McCartney is calling on the Canadian government to end the annual seal
hunt off the East Coast.
The legendary musician told a group of international reporters who
accompanied him to the ice on Thursday that the hunt is a stain on the
character of the Canadian people.
McCartney's comments were not well-received in Atlantic Canada,
especially in Newfoundland and Labrador where the vast majority of seal
Captain Paul Watson: The comments were well received by my family in
Atlantic Canada and I have a lot of family members in Atlantic Canada.
Most importantly the comments were well received outside of Canada.
"It's not right," said St. John's resident Maxine Collins. "Paul
McCartney knows nothing about our seal hunt. It's some people's
livelihood. It's done humanely and he should just back off and leave us
Captain Paul Watson: Apparently Paul knows more about the seal
slaughter than Maxine. Obviously she has never seen it to describe it
as humane. She is simply regurgitating the propaganda from the govenrment.
Troake said sealers have a lot at stake financially.
Most of them, he said, are commercial fishermen with big boat payments
to make. The hunt offers their first real cash after the winter layoff
and it's big money.
Captain Paul Watson: So to earn a dollar from killing seals they are
willing to sacrifice two or three dollars from losses because of the
boycott of Canadian Seafood products.If they really needed the money
they would not be trading a 139 million dollar loss on snow crabs alone
because of the boycott in order to continue clubbing seal pups.
Troake said the average 16-metre boat with a 12-man crew will haul in
$100,000 in a day or two of sealing.
Captain Paul Watson: What he does not say is that the owner of the boat
(Usually the Captain) gets half the take after the cost of fuel,
provisions and gear. This leaves about $30,000 for the 11 crew
remaining. which means an annual income of less than $3,000 per
"The only positive thing in the 2006 fishery is the seal fishery," he
Captain Paul Watson: It is a pretty sad state of affairs when the only
positive thing in your life is a two week blood orgy of cruelty and
Newfoundland musician Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea added his voice to
the hunt debate in a journal entry from the group's current tour.
Doyle said the McCartneys photo op on the ice is misleading to the
public and unfair to sealers.
"There has not been a cute and cuddly baby seal hunt in a long, long
time," Doyle said, pointing out that Canada has banned the killing of
newborn, whitecoat pups.
"Older harp seals are what the sealers are after, but I'll bet these
much uglier dudes won't make the final photo."
Captain Paul Watson: The problem is Doyle, that it is illegal to pose
with the seals being killed. And a baby seal is a baby seal. My crew
have posed with month old seals many times and they are just as cute.
The problem here is that Great Big Sea is a band with a limited
audience, primarily in Newfoundland so it is understandable why he
would support the sealers. Paul McCartney is a muscician who appeals to
the rest of the world where killing seals is obscene and considered
cruel and barbaric. That is why Paul McCartney is a household name and
Alan Doyle is not. I happen to like Great Big Sea myself but then
again, I'm from Atlantic Canada.
©The Canadian Press 2006
Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Director - Sierra Club USA
Director - The Farley Mowat Institute
Director - Atlantic Grey Whale Society
President - Oceanic Research and Conservation Action Force
P.O. Box 2616
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Tel: 360-370-5650 Cell: 310-701-3096