Whale Wars' Captain Paul Watson talks about his 'clients' and combatants

| April 22, 2010
- Eric Cheng/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
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Lecture by Captain Paul Watson
Thursday, April 22, 6 p.m.
CC's Armstrong Theatre, 14 E. Cache la Poudre St.
Free; booksigning withCaptain Watson at 5 p.m. Visit coloradocollege.edu for more event information. To learn more about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, visit seashepherd.org.

Fifty-nine-year-old Capt. Paul Watson has no plans to retire any time soon. Head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, early leader of Greenpeace and current star of Animal Planet's Whale Wars, Watson spends about eight months per year at sea, primarily fighting illegal whalers, sealers, and shark and dolphin fishermen.

His full white head of hair and beard give him a pleasant seafaring look fit for a Disney flick. His history — including handcuffing himself to seal pelts and placing himself between harpoon sea vessels and sperm whale pods — tells a different kind of tale, one of a feisty and committed marine wildlife activist running an organization that's no stranger to controversy.

Just consider the past few months, during "Operation Waltzing Matilda," the sixth Sea Shepherd voyage to Antarctica to stop whale killings. In February, another one of Sea Shepherd's captains, Peter Bethune, was arrested for boarding an illegal whaling ship to conduct a citizen's arrest, after said ship rammed his, breaking it in two. One day prior to the Indy's interview with Watson, the BBC reported that Japan's whaling fleet had returned to port with about half the amount of whales as it had planned to bring in — directly blaming Watson and Bethune for their interference.

A day after our interview, the BBC reported that scientists had confirmed sale of Japanese whale meat in the United States and Korea. (Though commercial whaling was frozen by an international moratorium in 1986, Japan continues to fish for the endangered species, claiming "scientific research.") According to the scientists, the research proves that "illegal trade in protected species" — one of the very acts about which Watson regularly speaks out — continues to go on.

In advance of his appearance at Colorado College, the Indy spoke with Watson about the recent voyage, his clashes with Japan, and what we as individuals can do to help his organization's cause.

Indy: There's big news being reported right now about Japan's whaling fleet.

PW: Yes, we predicted that outcome and it happened, so it was good.

Indy: So it's been a good season overall for you, then?

PW: Yeah, we estimated that cost them about $132 million in losses. ... and I'm being very conservative on the price of a whale, a quarter-million a whale. It's probably more than that, because one whole bluefin tuna is worth $250,000.

Indy: One of the things I read about as a result of [Japan returning with 528 fewer whales than targeted] was that Japan's fleet leader has been quoted as saying that you say you "want to protect the ocean, but [you] don't care about leaking oil or leaving pieces of a broken ship [the Ady Gil] behind."

PW: Oh, that's ridiculous. You know what that is? They cut one of our ships in half, deliberately rammed our ship. And, yeah, the ship sunk. But the interesting thing about it is that Australian Maritime [Safety] Authority told us to not go back on the boat, but my crew went back on board, drained every single drop of oil. There was no oil spill. ...

The other thing that's interesting is that I don't know of any case in maritime history where a captain has deliberately rammed, or accidentally collided with another ship, and nobody questioned them. He hasn't been questioned by the authorities in New Zealand, Australia or Japan. So in other words, they're above the law.

Indy: Why do you think that is?

PW: Because Japan is twisting everybody's arms economically. The Ady Gil is a New Zealand-registered vessel, with a New Zealand captain, and New Zealand has done nothing. That's why Pete Bethune [captain of the Ady Gil] went on board to confront the captain who destroyed his ship. And now he's in jail, and they've charged him with all sorts of absurd things, including the sword control act of [1876], which, by the way, was the act that Emperor Meiji used to destroy the Samurai tradition.

Indy: Can you talk about where Bethune's situation stands right now?

PW: Yeah, he's still incarcerated. And we're referring to him as a prisoner of war, by the very fact that if he was any civilian captain, he would've been. We got a letter from him, or a message through his lawyer about four days ago — and you know, Pete knew exactly what he was doing when he went on there, and the consequences, so he's not whining at all. In fact the opening of the letter was, "Oh, at least I haven't been jumped by some Sumo wrestler in the showers, so everything's fine."

Indy: He could see up to 15 years in jail.

PW: They always say that, but what they usually do with foreigners is convict them, give them a heavy sentence, and then they'll deport them.

Indy: How do you address people who feel what you're doing is excessive or militant?

PW: Well, we don't injure anybody. We haven't broken any laws. And we saved 528 whales this year, so personally I'm not concerned about the criticism. My clients are whales, not people. If anybody can find a whale that disagrees with those results, I'll take it to heart.

Indy: You've said in the past, "If the oceans die, then we all die." Can you explain?

PW: The fact is that right now, every single commercial fishery is in a state of collapse. I mean, Jacques Cousteau said just before he died that the oceans are dying in our time, and it's true.

If we diminish biodiversity in the oceans, we can cause an ecological collapse in the oceans, and if the oceans die then humanity dies, because we have an intimate connection with the sea. It sustains life on the planet. It's our life-support system. And people don't seem to realize that.

When you think about it, this is not Planet Earth, this is Planet Ocean. There just happen to be some earth pieces floating around on it.

Indy: The average American can't go out and do the work that you do. If you could suggest one thing each person could do to join the fight, what would it be?

PW: ... If there was one thing that I would say — if people really want to protect the oceans — it's stop eating fish. There's simply not enough fish in the oceans to continue to feed the ever-expanding number of people.




Comments (28)

Showing 1-25 of 28

Paul Watson is a hero, what a great interview!

Posted by HugAShark on 04/22/2010 at 11:05 AM

...im so excited to see my hero today...i will probably cry...

Posted by Shanna on 04/22/2010 at 11:43 AM

What a self serving, hypocritical, ego maniac. Watson should be in prison along with the rest of his gang of terrorists. Anyone that supports this arrogant windbag should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by Giz on 04/22/2010 at 1:08 PM

I watch "WHALE WARS" religiously. You go, Paul. There should be more like you.

Posted by FlaGirl on 04/22/2010 at 1:22 PM

Happy Earth Day Paul! Keep up the great work and thank you.

Posted by Brian88888 on 04/22/2010 at 2:47 PM

Watson has done and is doing so much to help save our planet. the Japanese are the terrorists trying to fool the world with there bogus "research" and by murdering these innocent animals they are destroying our world with out a single care for the long term consequences.

Posted by LosWilko on 04/22/2010 at 4:01 PM

You go Paul!
Anyone that thinks he is self serving, hypocritical, or an ego maniac just doesn't get it and I don't have the time or inclination to try to educate them.

Go Sea Shepherd!

Posted by Paladin on 04/22/2010 at 4:47 PM

Thank you for writing this insightful well done article. I sincerely want to Thank Paul Watson, Peter Bethune and all members of Sea Shepherd for their efforts and dedication in saving OUR planet.
Note to Paladin: It's frustrating trying to educate the people, but it needs to be done anyway. You never know who's life you might touch that will make a difference.

Posted by makingway on 04/22/2010 at 5:40 PM

Indeed, people need to be educated! Regardless of how one feels about whales or whaling, the fact is Watson is a liar. He has caused injuries and and he breaks numerous laws on virtually every episode of Whale Wars That I've seen. The Japanese have reported numerous injuries caused by his attacks. Intentionally making a workplace unsafe by throwing chemicals on deck to make it slippery (slips and falls are a prime source of injuries on ships at sea) and breaking glass bottles of chemicals all over a ship are indeed criminal acts, as are boarding ships on the high seas without permission, intentionally ramming and damaging ships, attempting to disable ships and disregard of international rules of navigation (all recorded for your entertainment). Because you claim to be on a divine mission to save whales does not make it legal. It's not a fact all commercial fisheries are in a state of collapse, a quick check of NOAA data shows stable and increasing total edible seafood production. Total domestic catch is up, imports are up, exports are up, maybe it's not a good thing but that is not what I call decline. Fishing is not the greatest danger to the health of the worlds oceans. Man made Land sourced pollution and climate change for whatever reason, are the big threats to the balance of life in the oceans (as we know it) and the rest of the world to boot.

Posted by WhaleWatcher on 04/22/2010 at 9:13 PM

This man is a complete idiot! He pretended to get shot!!! He is a liar and a complete moron.

Posted by elkster on 04/22/2010 at 10:06 PM


Posted by CSaction on 04/22/2010 at 10:49 PM

Paul Watson is a modern day hero. A real person who doesn't compromise his standards and his ethical beleifs.
To all those opposed, stuck to your geek cartoons, this is real life.

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Posted by Mr Philips on 04/23/2010 at 6:34 AM

Whale Watcher and Elkster.

I agree that he does break international Laws. I also agree that he was not really shot because most people understand that Bullet Proof Vests will not stop a high velocity Rifle Round, and the chance of a anyone hitting him with a pistol form a moving ship with one round is next to impossible.

However, you need to understand that there are a lot of us out here who do not care that he breaks laws, or does/says whatever he needs to drum up attention to illegal Japanese whaling. While you call it "Entertainment" the show Whale Wars is bringing to light the fact that the Japanese are still killing Whales. Many people did not know that before the series aired, and now the whalers and Japanese Government are seeing more pressure than ever. I would consider him extremely Non Violent with his actions. I guess Violence is a relative term? It is my opinion that there are many people who would like to see increased violence against Japanese Whalers, including myself. We do not care if a Japanese whaler gets hit on the head, or cut from broken glass. In reality they should be treated as poachers in Africa are and shot on the spot when caught in the act of Whaling. However we also understand that if he is TOO violent against the whalers, he will be shut down by government intervention. So Captain Watson walks a fine line and seems to do it well. Six years of anti whaling activity in the southern ocean and no government has stopped him yet!

This is a big world with many opinions. Some of us believe the Whales have more of a right to live than the people trying to kill them. That may differ with yours and others opinions, however you cannot ignore the fact that we feel this way. At the end of the day Captain Watson IS making a difference in reducing the number of Whales killed.

So how is he a Moron and an idiot?

Posted by ShepherdSupporter on 04/23/2010 at 7:52 AM

ShepherdSupporter says,
"I agree that he does break international Laws. I also agree that he was not really shot because most people understand that Bullet Proof Vests will not stop a high velocity Rifle Round, and the chance of a anyone hitting him with a pistol form a moving ship with one round is next to impossible.

However, you need to understand that there are a lot of us out here who do not care that he breaks laws, or does/says whatever he needs to drum up attention to illegal Japanese whaling."

It's nice to see a Sea Shepherd supporter admitting the truth for a change. And as a sign of honesty he goes directly to the standard last defense of the SSCS, in a nut shell, "Whatever we do is okay because we care about whales". I know there are a lot of you that feel that what Sea Shepherd does is okay and the right thing to do, but you're wrong. I also know Watson is no idiot or moron, he is a liar and a con-man, a terrorist and a criminal that will say whatever it takes to get your money, and that he considers himself above the law, the very thing he accuses the Japanese of in this interview (did I mention he's a hypocrite?). How anyone could believe anything he says is beyond me. Mr. Supporter, look up the word poacher, it does not describe what the Japanese whalers are doing. Claiming they are poaching is just one more Watson lie. The Japanese Whale openly and do what it takes to work under the current valid laws (Australia has no legitimate claim to an exclusive economic zone off Antarctica, in fact, Australia is in violation of the Antarctic treaty they signed by making the claim), that is not poaching. Please people, do your own research into this complex subject and do not take a known liar and criminal's word for anything. Watson will say anything, play off your love of wildlife and concern for the environment for his own personal gain. He swindled Bob Barker out of 5 million dollars or more telling him, with that, he could end Japanese whaling. News flash Bob, your 5 million could have done a lot of good for wildlife, instead there's another wreck polluting the ocean and whaling continues. Another season of Whale Wars is in the can and the last thing Discovery Comm., Inc. (Animal Planet) or Watson wants is for this cash cow to go away. How many millions will it take to end whaling this year "Captain" Watson? Who will buy their name on the next toy boat? (We got 'em right where we want them Bob, we just need another 5 mil, no, better make it 10!) Stay tuned!

Posted by Giz on 04/23/2010 at 10:36 AM

As well-meaning as Sea Shepherd may be, its actions are seen as part of an imperialistic assault on the Japanese culture, and ironically, in saving the lives of 500 whales this season, it has further entrenched the Japanese government’s support for whaling. Brave but divisive acts on the high seas, or bluster and bombast on the safe side of the shore have failed to stop whaling. The only way to get Japan, Iceland, and Norway, to stop this brutal practice is to reach out to the ordinary citizens of these countries and get them to work against whaling from within their own society. Louis Psihoyos’ Academy Award-winning film, The Cove, is making slow but steady progress toward that goal. However, changing a culture takes a very long time and the proposed agreement that the IWC will consider in June at least puts forth a reasonable compromise that puts stricter controls on whaling while setting an end point to this barbaric practice. Attacking the whalers may save some whales in the short term but it will lead to continued slaughter over the longer term. Unless someone has a better way to put an end to whaling, this agreement should be seriously considered. Please visit my blog: http://whaleanddolphintalk.blogspot.com/

Posted by RARC on 04/23/2010 at 12:18 PM

Mr. Watson was kind enough to grace colorado springs with his presence on earth day and for that I am so grateful that I got to sit amongst like-minded individuals and celebrate what a visionary Paul Watson is. I have not yet to date seen anybody that has interviewed, argued or debated Mr. Watson come up with a more viable solution to stop whaling than his present tactics. To this date - he has not broken the law nor has he been charged with breaking the law - therefore he has not broken the law. The japanese continue to justify whaling for research and Captain Paul Watson has made it his mission in life to protect these beautiful, majestic creatures and he has my complete and unwavering support.

Posted by Wow! on 04/23/2010 at 6:30 PM

People. Get real. It's a whale. Yes it's a big freeking critter but it's not like it's people. Do we lament the catching of tasty tuna? Savory salmon? Why worry about whales? If they want to eat them so what. They've been doing it for decades and there still seem to be plenty of whales out there.

Maybe if we wanted to eat polar bears they'd be doing better too. It doesn't seem like pigs and chickens have and chance of going extinct any time soon. Perhaps that's the secret to saving these critters. Start serving them in upscale restaruants and pretty soon we'll be armpit deep in the damn things.

Posted by Mister Mxyzptlk on 04/23/2010 at 9:51 PM

"To this date - he has not broken the law nor has he been charged with breaking the law"
Wow, Wow!,
Let me guess, you know this to be true because he told you so.
It is a standard Watson lie that he has told so many times I think he may even believe it himself. He has been charged with crimes and convicted. He brags about being guilty and then doesn't show up for court. Only the lack of an extradition treaty has kept him from doing time in Norway. How about that ship he lost in Canada? That was because he was innocent? Apparently you haven't seen the show "Whale wars". Watch and you'll see him break the law in virtually every episode, you may not know it if you're unfamiliar with international laws of the sea (which a Netherlands flagged vessel is obliged to obey) and he certainly won't admit it but he does.

Posted by WhaleWatcher on 04/23/2010 at 10:13 PM

To Mister Mxyzptlk: You are daft. Pigs and chickens aren't going extinct because we farm them. The biggest reason Watson and crew are doing what they are doing is because whalers are whaling endangered and protected species. And yes, they have been doing it for decades. The reason animals become protected is because their numbers are declining. Unlike pigs and chickens on our factory farms, which we breed, whale species only breed a certain amount of young every year. If we whale too much year after year, it doesn't give them time enough to replenish their numbers. The result is an endangered species. Which the Japanese whalers do not give a shite about.

Posted by Aeon on 04/24/2010 at 11:39 AM


FYI, The Minke whale, the primary species targeted by the Japanese, is no more endangered than every other living thing on Earth. In other words, it is not considered an endangered or even threatened species. Minke whales are the Bunnies of the sea when it comes to whale reproduction rates. Almost all whale specie's numbers are increasing, not declining. Of all the known species of whales to have ever existed, more are extinct than living, non of them are extinct due to humans hunting them. Species come and go, twas ever thus. BTW, US of A laws declaring all marine mammals protected only apply to US of A waters. The Minke is only protected in international waters beyond exclusive economic zones by the IWC rules with which the Japanese are in full compliance.

Posted by Giz on 04/24/2010 at 2:28 PM

Watson is pirate and a terroist. Minke Whales can be taken with no loss to the species. All the whale experts say they are not even close to being endangered. So if the Japanese or Nowegians or Eskimos want to eat them so what. Cows are protected in India. Why are whales the poster child for marine life? Simply put it has made Greenpeace, Watson and many others if not rich certainly famous and the is what they really want. To be a star and feed their ever growing ego. I suggest the best thing to do is ignore him and others like him.

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Posted by burger eater on 04/25/2010 at 3:52 AM

"To this date - he has not broken the law nor has he been charged with breaking the law - therefore he has not broken the law." Posted by Wow! on April 23, 2010 at 6:30 PM

Sorry but you are wrong. He has been charged numerous times and there are outstanding warrants for his arrest. He has been convicted in Norway.

Even in his home country of Canada he is a convicted felon. For Sea Shepherd actions against a legal Cuban vessel he was charged with 2 misdemeanors and 1 felony. He was acquitted of the misdemeanors and CONVICTED of the felony. Yes your hero is a liar and a convicted felon.

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Posted by LeonardGreen on 04/25/2010 at 7:59 AM

It seems Aeon that you are the daft one. The whales they hunt seem to be doing quite well. Almost as if the hunting of them is improving the breed. All species are improved by regulated hunting. The weak and stupid are killed while the fast and smart survive to breed. Maybe we ought to open a polar bear season...

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Posted by Mister Mxyzptlk on 04/25/2010 at 9:03 AM

Here's one for Earth Day

According to the SSCS disinformation site they dismantled most of the equipment themselves, and then “sold” the hull in 1992. Actually they abandoned it and it sat for 12 years before it was finally taken care of by Canada’s Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund(SOPF.) They would have done it sooner but there are lots of irresponsible criminal douchebags illegally dumping their scows and they have limited funds each year.

And according to this: http://www.sqwalk.com/docs/BCsHarbourHu … tOct09.pdf

Sea Shepherd II
In April 2004, the MV Sea Shepherd II, located in Robbers Pass, Tzartus Island [also in Barkley Sound], was in a derelict state and in danger of sinking. By May 11, 2004, 188 tonnes of a mixture of waste oil and diesel was pumped off the Sea Shepherd II, but some 16 gallons per hour of seawater was leaking back into the vessel. On May 26, 2004, the vessel was taken in tow, arriving at the Esquimalt graving dock the next day for break up. By June 17, 2004, seven large waste bins of oiled debris had been removed from the vessel. By July 30, 2004, the break up of the vessel had been completed. Cost to SOPF: $331,892.31 plus interest

Even more can be found on the matter here: http://www.ssopfund.gc.ca/documents/2009_S…

“2.6 Sea Shepherd II (2004)
In April 2004, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) received a number of reports that the MV Sea Shepherd II, located in Robbers Pass, Tzartus Island, British Columbia, was in a derelict state and in danger of sinking. The CCG, TCMS, and Provincial authorities attended on-scene to investigate. It was concluded that the vessel’s condition made it a threat to the marine environment. The ownership of the vessel could not be determined, so no assistance was forthcoming from that quarter. A Response Order under CSA section 678 was issued on April 26, 2004, by the Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard”.

Here let’s look at some pictures of the derelict scow of a threat to the marine environment that Watson dumped because he loves the Earth so much.

http://bcmarina.com/Places/Robbers_Pass … nails.html


Posted by Sharon Shelton on 04/26/2010 at 7:18 AM

Paul Watson will be seen as a great hero by future generations, because unlike most of the ignorant posters here, Paul cares about more than just himself. He cares about the very future of our planet and the rights of the whales and the rights of our children to still have whales in the future in the shattered destroyed world we are leaving them. I love you Paul!

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Posted by Joan123 on 04/30/2010 at 3:11 AM
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