If you are concerned about protecting baby harp seals, opposed to the savage brutality of the annual Canadian seal slaughter and concerned about the irreparable damage that the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans has done to the oceanic eco-systems off the Eastern coast of Canada then the Canadian Minister of Fisheries has declared that you are an enemy of Canada.

Canadian Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said yesterday that he is promising a war with animal rights and conservation organisations over the slaughter. Hearn said that he is prepared to "wage a war" to protect the Atlantic seal hunt.

These words go down well with Newfoundlanders, the people who elected Hearn, but to the rest of Canada they are the words of an extremist who is prepared to violate the rights of the citizens of Canada to defend the savage annual slaughter of seal pups.

Hearn is declaring war on all Canadian citizens who are opposed to the killing. He is declaring war against the European Parliament and against international organisations opposed to the killing of seals.

Hearn is incensed that the European Parliament has adopted a proposal calling for a ban on seal pelts entering Europe. The proposal was signed by 386 European lawmakers.

Hearn insists that European politicians have been misinformed by animal rights activists, yet some of these members of the European Parliament have seen the slaughter with their own eyes.

The Minister is demonstrating a gross disrespect for European leaders by accusing them of acting without the facts and without verification of the facts.

The facts are clear. Only the Canadian government is in denial of the facts.

The fact is that the annual seal hunt is inhumane. It is a threat not only to the survival of the harp seal species but also to the survival of the eco-system that the seals are an important part of. It is a fact that harp seals are a benefit to cod and not the cause of their diminishment. The cause of the collapse of the cod fishery was gross incompetence and mismanagement of the fishery by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The fact is that a majority of Canadians oppose the slaughter of seals and the fact is that the rest of the world abhors the slaughter of seals in Canada, Norway, Russia and Namibia.

According to the Canadian media Hearn said: "What happens when they stop the seal hunt? What's next? Is it the slaughter of lambs?

"They're already after chicken. Lobster is becoming a target. So where does it stop? As far as we're concerned, it stops right here, and if they want a war over this, they bloody well got one."

Actually, three years ago I wrote a book titled Seal Wars! about the Canadian slaughter of seals. I've been "at war" with the government of Canada on this issue since the 60s.

Finally the Ministry of Fisheries has recognised the seriousness of the international protests and their economic impact, especially on sales of Canadian seafood. He's not ignoring us anymore. Now he wants to fight.

Hearn also implied that concerns about the inhumane slaughter are communist.

"In many of the European countries, as you know, the governments are much more left wing than our own, and it's not very hard to find sympathisers to such causes," Hearn said.

In fact it is not hard to find sympathisers against the slaughter from most of the civilised world. Opposition to the seal hunt comes from all over the world, from across the political spectrum.

Last week Hearn stated that European support for a ban on seal pelts was disrespectful to the Canadian soldiers who died liberating Europe.

Renowned Canadian author and Sea Shepherd international chair Farley Mowat responded by saying, "Speaking as a veteran who participated in the liberation of Holland, Belgium and Europe I can state categorically that the best way for Europeans to show their appreciation for the role of Canadians in the liberation of Europe is to ban the sale of seal pelts in Europe."

* Seal products have been banned in the United States since 1972.

* The European declaration, if approved, would not apply to the aboriginal hunt of seals.

* Paul Watson is founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.