April 26, 2016
In a shocking move, the US Coast Guard has enacted a so-called “Safety Zone” on the Columbia River designed to keep SHARK from documenting the slaughter of cormorants on East Sand Island by U.S. Dept. of Agriculture/Wildlife Services.
SHARK has sent a letter to the Coast Guard, Sector Columbia River, asking for an exemption as is allowed under the order. This letter explains how the USDA lied to the Coast Guard and why their request for a Safety Zone was fraudulent.
Please immediately call the Coast Guard and ask them to either give SHARK the exemption or to remove the safety zone entirely.
Captain of the Port
Sector Columbia River
Dear Captain Travers,
I am writing to you to ask for an exemption to the Safety Zone, Columbia River, Sand Island, WA, Docket Number USCG-2016-0236.
My organization, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) currently has a boat on the Columbia River to legally and non-violently document the “removal operations” being undertaken by the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). We seek to peacefully and safely express our First Amendment rights to document these activities, and disseminate that documentation to the public, government actions, however, the significant expanse of the zone - 500 yards - is directly impeding our rights.
When my investigator called the Coast Guard Command Center on April 25, 2016, to inquire about the Safety Zone, he was repeatedly told by a Justin Knox that someone from USDA/Wildlife Services complained that I had made "J-Turns” and was trying to “wake their vessel.” Please understand that this was not only an outright lie by Wildlife Services, but it was clearly malicious and designed to mislead the Coast Guard into terminating our rights. I give you my word that I never took such actions, and I can prove it.
When my investigator spoke with Kenneth Lawrenson, M CIV, he was told that representatives from the ACE and the USDA specifically asked for the 500 yard zone. These stories are not mutually exclusive and both lead to the same goal: the government agencies in charge of the cormorant killing do not want the public to be able to legally record their actions. That is why they asked for the extravagant and over-sized safety area.
Please note that they didn’t ask for a Safety Zone before our presence, even though the area is trafficked and there are biologists who frequent East Sand Island. Safety was not an issue then, and it isn’t one now. To be perfectly blunt, ACE and USDA are not interested in safety, but suppression, and that is absolutely unacceptable.
We are asking for an exemption that allows our one boat to be 100 yards away from the Wildlife Services vessel. We will maintain a position outside of their firing line, which therefore negates any safety issues regarding falling gunshot. We also agree to not interfere with their boat in any way and to state on the record that our intentions are purely non-violent in nature.
We are on the river only to express our rights and document the actions that our government is taking on public waters. Such actions are exactly what a free and open country wants, expects and demands. We therefore call upon you to uphold these cherished beliefs that makes our country unique in both history and time.
President, SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness