Paul Watson founded theÂ Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977 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.
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 Shepherdâ??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 fishermanâ??s boat with his mammoth flagship.
In a recent interview, when asked if he viewed violence as a â??legitimate means of social change,â? Watson replied, â??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 personâ??s terrorist is another personâ??s freedom fighter.â?
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 Johnâ??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.
Paul Watson has used his aggressive and illegal tactics to further other political causes. In 1992, replicas of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria retraced Columbusâ?? voyage on its 500th anniversary. Watson, with Canadian Aboriginals aboard his ship, confronted the Spanish fleet and demanded a written apology â?? threatening to sink the Santa Maria if the Spaniards didnâ??t comply. Watson received his written apology from the terrified captain.
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 organizationâ??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 â??Avon ladies of the environmentâ? 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.
While protesting the Canadian seal hunt, Watson would sail the large SSCS steel ship on several occasions into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence ice flows, unavoidably and hypocritically crushing newborn seals himself. After ramming a Canadian Coast Guard Vessel the previous year, and putting the lives of several fishermen in danger by steaming their large vessel through the ice pans upon which they were standing, the SSCS aging rusty ship the Farley Mowat, was seized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Apr 12, 2008. WatsonÂ got off free since he does not have a legal captain’s ticket himself (thus not being a real captain) and had the ship registered under another captain and first officer. The group pleaded to international courts that they were not in Canadian waters, despite being arrested in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the mouth of Canadaâ??s largest river, with accompanying GPS data from the RCMP and Coast Guard. Their ship is still currently impounded in Halifax and the 2 arrested members face court and $100,000 fines.
Watson has often faced accusations of negligence from his crew. The majority of his volunteers have no sea experience and in his reckless acts he often places them in situations they are not prepared to handle. During this years protest of Japanese whaling Watson took the Steve Irwin into ice flows which its hull was not rated for and could easily be crushed, he sent inexperienced deckhands into the lower storage areas of the ship that were at risk of being punctured. The deckhands, with no experience or training in damage control would have been unable to stop the incoming Antarctic water, ultimately becoming trapped and drown. Several of his Vegan crew-mates have been offended by Mr. Watson’s diet. During his trips and interactions Watson would often eat fish, and several types of meat including steak. After facing accusations of being a hypocrite, overweight Watson now argues that he has always been a Vegan.
A detailed account of Watson’s behavior was formerly displayed on a website called sea-shepherd.com .Â The site, now linking to the SSCS official website, was owned and operated by Nyles Bauer, former helmsman for the SSCS.Â Bauer, now suffering medical issues due to a hunger strike he took part of while in prison blames Watson, who had abandoned the ship, and most of the crew, the night before in an effort to try and save himself. He describes Watson as not taking part of the hunger strike with the rest of the crew and instead gorging on steak,Â borrowing and never repaying him $2000.00 cash his parents had sent for bail,Â along with another $1700.00 he had personally loaned Watson for lubrication oil for the the ship. Mr. Watson, after seeing Mr. Bauer’s website, replied to him with hate mail, called him out on the green peace web forum, and threatened to peruse legal action.
Some points Mr. Bauer makes of Mr. Watson:
- Paul Watson has openly stated that he doesn’t really care about individual animals, just endangered species as a whole. That’s how he used to justify eating meat.
- Watson smuggled endangered Black Coral out of Grenada, and into the United States on their voyage.
- To obtain this coral, Watson traded a “Saturday Night Special” pistol the he claimed couldn’t shoot an aluminum can from just a few feet away. By getting rid of this illegal handgun and only having legal rifles on board, he could enter U.S. waters and request that the Coast GuardÂ inspect and certify that the Sea Shepherd was totally unarmed, as they watched the rifles being unloaded. Being certified unarmed by the Coast Guard would be important in any conflict that might occur in Canada.* Much of the crew was not properly trained for this trip. Upon arriving early at the helm for his watch one night, he looked out the window to see harp seal pups being killed in mass from being driven under the Canadian Ice Flows, or being thrown up in the air, as the Sea Shepherd moved “full steam ahead.”Â After reporting to the duty watch that they were obviously entering the first of the harp seal calving grounds and needed to proceed at the slowest speed possible to avoid killing even more seals. One person on duty for that watch replied they were proceeding full ahead because they thought they were only muskrats or otters, neither of which would be found in this area.
- ALL lifeboat inspection dates had expired. Watson had the old dates removed and new dates forged so that the Coast Guard would not cause any trouble if they were inspected.
- Touching nearly any overhead pipe in the engine room would cause huge amounts of asbestos to rain down on volunteers.
- All the volunteer crew had to work every day on the Sea Shepherd for room and board (beans) on the ship. Several later additions to the crew either paid for a spot (fair), or slept with Paul Watson (married at the time with a small child) and his Father (maybe not so fair).
More Infamous Paul Watson Statements, Quotes, and Facts:
- â??There is nothing wrong with terrorism, as long as you winâ?
- He considers whales to be more intelligent than people.
- Watson has a dogmatic and authoritarian â??loveâ?? of animals coupled with a hatred of humanity.
- In his book, Seal Wars, Paul Watson admitted that members of his organization were â??mastersâ? 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 Societyâ??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.
- â??I got the impression that instead of going out to shoot birds, I should go out and shoot the kids who shoot birds.â?
- â??Earthworms are far more valuable than people. The world will be a much nicer place without us humans.â?
- â??We need to radically and intelligently reduce human population to fewer than one billion.â? Paul Watson
- â??If you donâ??t know an answer, a fact, a statistic, then â?Š make it up on the spot.
- â??We should never feel like weâ??re going too far in breaking the law, because whatever laws you break to liberate animals or to protect the environment are very insignificant.â?
- 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
The web archive of Nyles Bauer’s website on the SSCS and Paul Watson