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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Seal hunters facing legal action
Dr Glenn Boyle, left, with the crew and an IFAW member
Dr Glenn Boyle, left, with the crew and an IFAW member
A Cornish film team had a narrow escape from a Canadian sealing boat which apparently tried to ram them as they filmed a seal cull.

The dramatic incident occurred as the two-man crew were filming in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

They were with Dr Glenn Boyle of the National Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall and a member of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

The IFAW is now considering legal action against the sealers.

We had to hop from one piece of ice to another
Dr Glenn Boyle
The team, from Penryn-based Marine Team, were filming Canada's largest seal cull for more than 50 years.

The government is allowing more than 300,000 seals a year to be killed in a move that has sparked outrage from environmentalists.

The film crew had obtained permits from the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and was taken to the ice floes where the culling is taking place by an IFAW helicopter.

The group wore survival suits and had been given a safety briefing on how to haul themselves out of the water if they fell through the ice.

Cull
Sealers club the animals to preserve their skins
Dr Boyle, who is making a study of how marine mammals are treated in Canada, said it was clear from the time the crew landed on the ice that they were not welcome.

Nevertheless, the crew started taking pictures, despite offensive remarks from the sealers.

Dr Boyle said: "We then had the impression that their boat was steaming towards us.

"The helicopter pilot realised that a crack was appearing in the ice and took off.

"The ice then became unstable and we had to hop from one piece of ice to another until we could be picked up by the helicopter from another point."

He added: "We only realised what danger we had been in when we got back to the helicopter .

"At the time we were concentrating on getting the pictures we needed."

An IFAW spokeswoman said: "Our lawyer is getting evidence and taking affidavits with a view to a police prosecution for reckless endangerment at the very least."

The Canadian authorities are quite clear on media access to the seal hunt and they believe they have an open system which normally works well.

Roger Simon of the DFO, said: "Any person who requests a permit is issued one unless they have been convicted of interfering with the seal hunt.

"So it is a wide open process. The media are here from all over the world."




SEE ALSO:
Canada embarks on mass seal hunt
13 Apr 04  |  Americas
Activists blast Canada seal hunt
07 Apr 04  |  Americas
Norway suggests tourist seal hunts
07 Nov 01  |  Business
Clubbing 'cruelty' on camera
20 Apr 98  |  Americas
Russian 'ice expedition' to save seals
18 Apr 01  |  Media reports


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