Ocean activists bailed out of jail

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Two members of the marine conservationist group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society were freed from solitary confinement in Sydney, Nova Scotia on April 14, after the group’s founder, Capt. Paul Watson, delivered $10,000 in “doubloons” to the Nova Scotia courts.

Two members of the marine conservationist group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society were freed from solitary confinement in Sydney, Nova Scotia on April 14, after the group’s founder, Capt. Paul Watson, delivered $10,000 in “doubloons” to the Nova Scotia courts.

Two days earlier armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stormed and seized Sea Shepherd’s ship, the Farley Mowat, and detained Capt. Alex Cornelissen and 1st Officer Peter Hammarstedt, charging them with allegedly approaching within a half-nautical-mile of Canada’s sanctioned annual hunt of harp seals on the ice floes off Atlantic Canada.

“We do not view the arrests as lawful,” says Watson. “These men were seized from their Dutch flagged ship on the high seas in international waters by armed men who then commandeered the ship and the personal property of the crew. This was an act of piracy and we do not recognize this as bail. It’s a ransom that we have been forced to pay and since it’s a ransom being paid to pirates, it’s appropriate that it has been paid in doubloons.”

The Canadian dollar coin is called a “loonie” and although the two dollar coin is called a “toonie,” it really is a “double loon” and thus a doubloon.

According to the government agency Fisheries and Oceans Canada, some 270,000 seals were killed in the 2007 hunt. The estimated size of the seal herd off Atlantic Canada is 5.5 million. Seal pelts sell for about $105.

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