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SEA SHEPHARD....AN ICON FOR US ALL... April 04, 2008 8:00 AM

Risking it all for a matter of principle Environmental activist Paul Watson continues his fight against seal hunting. By Alessio Galletti “I cannot be accountable to anyone other than to the seals, whales, sharks, and other sea creatures which I have been defending for years.” This is the spirit with which Paul Watson was ploughing through the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence last week on his mission to document and to obstruct the annual seal hunt on opening day. He is not the least bit worried about warnings from Federal Minister of Transport Lawrence Cannon to stay out of Canadian territorial waters. “This is a Dutch vessel with an international crew,” says Watson. “If Canada attempts to board us in waters that are not within their 12-mile jurisdiction, I believe it could cause an international incident,” answered Watson without batting an eye. Aboard the Farley Mowat, Watson and 19 others from Sea Shepherd, the organization Watson founded, will document the carnage that is carried out annually on the shores. “I was raised in an area where this type of hunt took place, and I am embarrassed to be Canadian when I witness the hunt,” Watson says. What will you do with the material you gather? “We’ll hand it over to Animal Planet, but mostly we’ll let the European Union have it; it's considering a ban on all products derived from the seal hunt.” In regards to the market, can the seal hunt be considered an economic resource? “It’s economically irrelevant. It’s convenient for the hunters who can earn well working a few weeks and then be eligible for government assistance.” Regarding the hunters, you’ve had trouble with them while you were involved in similar actions. “Yes, my members and I were assaulted by the hunters once while we were documenting the hunt. The incredible thing was that none of the hunters faced any consequences, but we were arrested. The point is that there is one law for those who hunt seals and a different law for those who protect them.” It’s not the first assault you suffered, and the last one occurred just a few weeks ago… “It happened while we were confronting Japanese whale hunters – I was hit by a bullet. I’m alive thanks to a bullet-proof vest.” Isn’t it odd that an activist has to take such precautions? “It’s a precaution I take ever since I risked being killed when I fought the shark hunt in Costa Rica. They tried to murder me.” Other activists criticize your style, maintaining that it’s too extreme in some cases… “I know what’s said about me, but in 30 years I have never caused injury to anyone, nor have I even tried to.” You founded Greenpeace, then you left the organization. What happened? “Greenpeace is not what it used to be. It’s no coincidence that many of the founding members have left. Now it’s just a business run by people who want to make more money. Robert Hunter and Paul Watson 1976Paul Watson with seal 1976Seal hunter 1976 The first two men to place themselves between a whale and a harpoon earlier in the year, Hunter and Watson now stand between a seal and the sealing ship, Arctic Endeavor.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
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