Seal wars: Twenty-five years on the front lines for the seals

Posted: 1 April 2004

Author: Paul Watson
Firefly, 2004, Cn$14.95pb

There's a war going on at the ice floes off the east coast of Canada between the sealing industry (which includes the Canadian Government) and the crew of Sea Shepherd led by Captain Paul Watson.

Book cover of Seal Wars
Book cover of Seal Wars

Watson and his crew are bent on stopping the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of baby harp and hood seals along with their parents who are being clubbed, shot and skinned alive by seal hunters who seem determined to drive them to extinction.

It's politics as usual as Watson explains why the seal is being used as a scapegoat for overfishing. Incredible stupidity reigns supreme in the halls of the Canadian parliament where members ignore the advice of research scientists in determining kill quotas and vote to continue to subsidize the hunt, whilst ignoring the protests of the people.

Since Sea Shepherd is non-violent in its approach, it must fight the war with wits and strategy using as its main weapon the tremendous power of the media to engender international outrage by exposing the heartless tradition of clubbing baby seals to death.

Watson puts himself and his crew on the front line, enduring not only extremes of weather but also putting themselves directly in front of tankers barging into ice floes with harp seal nurseries, hurling their own bodies on top of baby seals to protect them from being bludgeoned, being confronted by mobs of sealers and local townsfolk, along with the never-ending battles with politicians, police, judges and fishing authorities.

Paul Watson writes with great descriptive brio. Driven by his love for these defenceless animals, he is clearly ready to do whatever it takes to protect them, Indeed, he seems to have more than one guardian angel protecting him.

Canada made many laws specially to prevent Watson approaching the seals or videotaping a kill, so fearful were they of this co-founder of Greenpeace. Some of the scenes where he encounters sealers and antagonistic Coast Guard and fisheries authorities seem too fantastic to be true - but he makes a point of detailing names of his crew and reporters, newspapers, TV stations along with dates for verification.

I found this to be a captivating book. It reads like a world-class thriller, and is both heart- breaking and highly entertaining. It also left me angry enough to want to do act.

Reviewer: Menkit Prince

Reviewer Info: Menkit Prince is the author of a vegan cookbook using aromatherapy oils called The Essential Oil Cookbook.