The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was established in 1977 by founder Paul Watson after he was kicked out of GreenPeace for his radical and outrageous opinions. Watson was born in Toronto, Canada. At six years old, he and his family moved to the lobster fishing town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea in New Brunswick. In December 1978, with the assistance of Cleveland Amory and the Fund for Animals, Watson purchased a North Atlantic trawler in Britain and converted her into the conservation enforcement vessel Sea Shepherd.
“We’re not a protest organization, we’re a policing organization,” Paul Watson has said of his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. SSCS’s mission is to stop fishing and hunting of marine mammals – but only certain animals. The Sea Shepherd Society claim that they have the authority to enforce international conservation laws by the United Nations. “The United Nations World Charter for Nature, section 21, empowers any non-governmental organization or individual to uphold international conservation law in areas beyond national jurisdiction and specifically on the high seas.” Some of the SSCS methods of enforcement are hard to believe, – they act like pirates, and actually fly the Jolly Roger as their flag.
Mr. Watsonâ??s first taste of blood came in 1979, when he went after a whaling ship called the Sierra. He chose to use his vessel as a battering-ram, ramming the Sierra at full speed and ripping open its hull. This became the Sea Shepherd’s first victim. Over the next 15 years, the Sea Shepherd Society bragged that they have sunk 8 ships and rammed and damaged a further 6. The ships Paul Watson uses have a concrete-filled bow – specifically designed for ramming.
For his crimes against both people and property, Paul Watson has spent a large amount of his pirate career in jails, and before judges, of numerous countries. In 1997, he was imprisoned in a maximum-security facility in the Netherlands, where he was picked up for the scuttling of a whaling ship at dock, and the intentional ramming of a Norwegian coast guard vessel. Most recently, Watson was investigated by a Costa Rican court for the attempted murder of a local fisherman. In 2002, when he came across the shark fisherman in a 13-foot vessel, Watson attempted to ram the fisherman’s boat with his mammoth flagship.
In a recent interview, when asked if he viewed violence as a “legitimate means of social change,” Watson replied, “We are a violent species, and we always solve our problems with violence. There have been no exceptions. Non-violent victories are a myth. Force has always prevailedÂ?. One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.”
In 1983 Watson turned his sights on the Canadian seal hunt. This proved to be his biggest money maker. He used his ship to blockade the port at St John’s, Newfoundland, and announced he would ram any sealing ship that tried to leave. When the authorities threatened to storm his ship, he counter-threatened to scuttle the vessel at the mouth of the harbour and thereby create an impassable barrier.
Bad blood between Greenpeace and The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society goes back a long time. Paul Watson claims to be one of the founders of Greenpeace in 1972, but after 7 years he was removed by the organization’s board by a unanimous vote referencing his violent tendencies. Shortly after he founded his own organization, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. While Greenpeace adopted an ethic of non-violence, Watson relies on confrontation and aggression to achieve his goals – calling Greenpeace the “Avon ladies of the environment” and accusing them of being more interested in publicity than in enforcing international law. This rivalry got so out of hand that in 2006, while both were chasing the Japanese whaling fleet, the Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace vessels collided. Both groups claimed that the other tried to ram them. Ultimately, the Japanese whalers took advantage of the confrontation and escaped, not to be found during that season again. While the two organizations were fighting each other for the right to protect the whales, the very whalers they were trying to stop disappeared from the seas.
Some Infamous Paul Watson Statements, Quotes, and Facts:
- “There is nothing wrong with terrorism, as long as you win”
- He considers whales to be more intelligent than people.
- Watson has a dogmatic and authoritarian ‘love’ of animals coupled with a hatred of humanity.
- In his book, Seal Wars, Paul Watson admitted that members of his organization were “masters” of media manipulation.
- The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was embroiled in controversy because a U.S. board member, Jerry Vlasak, had condoned assassination as a means of stopping the hunt. Vlasak was later dropped from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s board.
- It is funny to note that Paul Watson was the source of seal and sealing information for Bridgett Bardot when she made her famous journey out to the ice flows in 1977. After the visit she told everyone the harp seal would be extinct by 1982. Bridgett Bardot was bitten by a seal pup during that visit.
- “I got the impression that instead of going out to shoot birds, I should go out and shoot the kids who shoot birds.”
- “Earthworms are far more valuable than people. The world will be a much nicer place without us humans.”
- “We need to radically and intelligently reduce human population to fewer than one billion.” Paul Watson
- “If you don’t know an answer, a fact, a statistic, then … make it up on the spot.
- “We should never feel like we’re going too far in breaking the law, because whatever laws you break to liberate animals or to protect the environment are very insignificant.”
- After 4 sealers died in 2008 Paul Watson stated that the men were sadistic baby killers and that the greater tragedy was the hunting that they were taking part in.
Barbara Frum, Paul Watson Interview, 1978 CBC