Sea Shepherd Commentary & Editorial articles from 2012 and earlier.

For articles from 2013 and newer, visit our Sea Shepherd Commentary & Editorials page.


An Interesting Weekend on Spaceship Earth

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Watson on the bridge wing of the Steve IrwinCaptain Watson on the bridge wing of the Steve Irwin
File Photo
It has been an interesting weekend. The CTV network in Canada updated and nationally ran a previous profile piece on me on Saturday evening. Although I was not in Paris to personally accept it, I also received the Jules Verne Award on Saturday and that is a very prestigious honor indeed. Someone commented that I have gone underground. I'm not sure that is an accurate description. Can one be underground while being on the water?

I am not a fugitive, however. Germany no longer has a warrant for me because I am no longer in Germany. Costa Rica and Japan have me listed with Interpol on their ‘red list,’ which is not actually an arrest warrant. What it means is that if I enter an Interpol member nation, they will inform Japan and Costa Rica who will then issue an arrest warrant. So until I officially enter a country that is a member of Interpol, there is no warrant outstanding for my arrest. Interpol has zero jurisdiction on the high seas nor has anyone else, which means I am free to roam the ocean at will. Considering that is where the oceanic bad guys are operating, what better place to be if we are to stop them?

Will Woodside 'Smash the Vatican Chalices' of the Goolarabooloo People?

Operation Kimberley Miinimbi update by Sea Shepherd Australia Director Jeff Hansen

Footprint of small theropodFootprint of small theropod.
Photo: Adam Toole
Tonight, Thursday October 4th I sat down to watch a program called Catalyst on Australian ABC TV. The topic for the show was "Kimberley Dinosaurs".

As though we needed another reason to stop Woodside and their plans to put one of the world's largest gas hubs right through the middle of the world's largest humpback whale nursery. Now we find out that Woodside's project will destroy dinosaur tracks that are found nowhere else on the planet.

In the far north of Western Australia, the Kimberley is a region where science has much to learn, where the wildlife is abundant and diverse, and the landscape is wild and unpolluted. However, what is really amazing to learn in this story is that the largest animals on Earth today are swimming past the footprints of the largest animals ever to have walked the planet. Written in sandstone we find a dinosaur story from deep in time, where in most cases the tracks likely represent between a few days and a couple of weeks, and were laid 130 million years ago, providing an amazing snapshot of life as it were millions of years ago.

Sea Shepherd Cries Foul Over Western Australia Shark Cull

It’s Time for the Fear-Mongering to End

by Julie Andersen, Director, Shark Campaigns

Tiger Shark caught in shark netTiger Shark caught in shark net
Photo: Mark Addison
In response to current reports that officials in Western Australia are to begin waging war on sharks by initiating a cull of any sharks swimming near beaches in the region, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is crying foul. The shark cull comes in response to five deaths to surfers due to shark bites over the last year on Western Australia’s beaches. However, given all that is known about sharks, including their quickly dwindling numbers, the critical role they play in our oceans, and the small threat they actually pose to humans in the grand scheme of things, it is hard to fathom that the archaic concept of killing these animals for our “protection” still exists.

For a country like Australia — whose citizens are known for their enlightened, balanced view of our natural world — to declare war on sharks is particularly unsettling.  Officials plan to kill any sharks — including the protected and endangered white shark — swimming near beaches in Western Australia. At a cost of far more than the $6.35 million that the Australian government is investing in the program, it is absolutely shameful.

Fear and Loathing of Sharks in Western Australia

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson,
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

photo_2Captain Paul Watson
Photo: Billy Danger/Sea Shepherd
I was a surfer in the sixties and seventies and I don’t recall a single moment that I ever felt afraid of sharks — the beautiful and unique creatures that Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett is now condemning. I don’t think Barnett was ever a surfer.

Real surfers not only love the ocean, they also understand it. They understand the complex inter-relationships between species, and if they love and understand the ocean they also love and understand sharks.

No, I simply cannot see Barnett astride a surfboard.

He was most likely one of those poor timid souls who sat on the beach, traumatized by having seen the Spielberg travesty called Jaws.

This week, this same premier of Western Australia issued a shark-hating Fatah, calling for their total annihilation.

There Can Be No Honor in Supporting Death

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

SSCS_EC_0196192Photo: Eric Cheng/Sea ShepherdThe Japanese government has turned the entire whaling and dolphin killing controversy into a farcical comedy of errors, overkill, brutality and silliness.

Last week the Mainichi newspaper of Japan ran an article on the abuses of the Tsunami Relief Fund.

This is an excerpt:

A legislator elected from an area hit by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami is lamenting that "termites are swarming over funds set aside for the restoration of disaster-hit areas, and diverting much of the money to projects irrelevant to disaster recovery." He is talking about projects such as those that make government buildings quake-resistant, the purchase of weapons for the Self-Defense Forces, research on nuclear fusion and subsidies for artists' overseas performances.

On Sept. 9, the "NHK Special" program aired by the public broadcaster reported that funds set aside for disaster recovery projects had been diverted to anti-terrorism and anti-Sea Shepherd measures, amazing residents of disaster-ravaged areas. The week the Japan Times also reported the following:

Last December there was a mild eruption of indignation when it was reported that some of the money earmarked for reconstruction of areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 would go to protect research whaling from interventionists like Sea Shepherd.  Greenpeace and a few other organizations claimed the use of these funds for such a purpose was improper, but the fisheries ministry insisted it was perfectly in line with the policy set forth when the reconstruction budgets were approved, since whaling was integral to the economies of some communities in the disaster-hit area.

Captain Peter Hammarstedt Launches the Sailing Vessel, Sea Shepherd Italia

by Cristina Giusti — Media Group Coordinator, Sea Shepherd Italy

Capt. Hammarstedt is welcomed with the traditional Lion of Venice at Venice City HallCapt. Hammarstedt is welcomed with the traditional Lion of Venice at Venice City Hall
Photo: Marianna Baldo
It was two fulfilling days of heartfelt emotion recently for the Italian Chapter of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. On the morning of September 1st, Venice woke up to the incredible and surprising sight of Captain Hammarstedt arriving via gondola at perhaps Venice’s most famous landmark, Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), sailed by the oarsman Thommaso Luppi. Captain Peter Hammarstedt arrived in Venice to a very warm official welcome from the city and its representatives. A large delegation of Venetian gondoliers and a group of Sea Shepherd supporters and volunteers were on hand to joyously welcome Captain Hammarstedt. Later, the Captain visited assessors and other officials in the ancient corridors of Venice’s City Hall and received a traditional welcome when he was bestowed with a replica of the Lion of Venice, the city’s legendary mascot.

At the Venetian Sailing Club, preparations were underway for the christening ceremony of the Sea Shepherd Italia, a sailboat donated to the Italian chapter. The new vessel is a welcome addition to the fleet and will be an ambassador of ocean defense specifically along the Mediterranean coastline. Today, the endangered Bluefin tuna, an extraordinary marine animal, is being indiscriminately and illegally fished to extinction in our oceans. During Operation Blue Rage in 2010, Sea Shepherd intervened to release 800 bluefin tuna — many of them juveniles — which had been illegally caught after the close of season, fish that are today swimming free in our oceans because of our action.

The Venetian Sailing Club gave Sea Shepherd a hearty and impeccable reception to celebrate the vessel’s launch while the City of Venice officially embraced Sea Shepherd’s Jolly Roger emblem evidence of its friendship with “Neptune’s Navy.”

Observations From a Long liner

By Julie Andersen, Operation Requiem Campaign Leader

The last place in the world I thought I’d be is standing in a huge blast-freezing morgue with one eye on the door to ensure I didn’t meet a similar untimely demise, counting the number of blue shark carcasses deep in the hull of a long liner in the middle South Pacific, hundreds of miles from shore. But here I was…

Julie Andersen Simon Ager takes Julie to the ship for boardingSea Shepherd crew approaches a long liner for inspection Photo: Julie Andersen / Sea Shepherd“Long liner ahead!”

Up until now, we’d only boarded purse seiners – so I’ve been looking forward to hearing those words. To me, long liners meant sharks – and probably lots of them. Another new opportunity to learn as much as possible about those doing a considerable amount of the fishing that is decimating shark populations around the world. And the potential to arrest fishermen for their illegal shark catch.

Iaekana, the marine officer, and I kitted up quickly and prepared to board the Korean vessel – with a legal license to fish in PIPA. Putting on our dry suits, Iaekana told me about a recent shoot out aboard a long-lining vessel, which resulted in a fisherman’s death. Clearly a warning — purse seiners were one thing, long liners another. We approached and boarded with caution.

While Iaekana went through the boat’s paperwork, I inspected the large ship, filming and observing the beacons, the long lines and buoys, and the bags full of hooks. It wasn’t long before I found the shark fins — drying on the stern of the boat; hanging on a line amongst the crew’s newly washed clothes. Blue shark fins — and plenty of them — a variety of sizes from immature to sharks undoubtedly bigger than me. Dorsal, pectoral, and caudal (tail) fins, all hanging in the sun to dry.

An Odyssey for the Whales

“Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more.”
— William Shakespeare, “Henry V”

Photo: Barbara VeigaPhoto: Barbara VeigaIt is September 10th and I have been free from Germany now for 50 days.

I can’t say that it has been unpleasant. As a matter of fact I don’t think that I have had the opportunity to enjoy nature so much in years. The number of species that I have seen up close in person over the last month and a half has been awesome and to me that is the true value of being alive – to see, hear, smell, taste and touch the natural world, to be amongst the dolphins and whales, seals and turtles, birds and fish, to experience life above, upon, and below that great and mysterious cradle of life we know as the sea.

And to see the stars at night, the broad infinite sparkling belt of light twinkling mysteriously from the past, to see meteors burning into fiery dust in the sky, the green flash of the sun as it dips into the sea, a cloud burst showering the decks with the crystal clear lifeblood of the Earth.

The Dark Hobby Redux, Part 2

A 2012 Update on the Global 3-Tier Campaign to Ban Aquarium Trade Trafficking of Marine Wildlife: Part Two of Two

Commentary and photos by Robert Wintner (except as noted)

Tier 3: the Demand Side, Home Aquarium Hobbyists.

The average home aquarium hobbyist used to be a 30-50-something male. Now he's female, morphed as it were, like a redlip parrotfish.

A redlip parrotfish hams it up for the cameraA redlip parrotfish hams it up for the camera

The Price We Pay for Saving Wildlife

Commentary by Alex Cornelissen

Captain Alex CornelissenCaptain Alex CornelissenThere are many of us in the environmental movement that have been arrested and even incarcerated for protecting life. Often our only crime is having the audacity to stand up against countries blatantly committing crimes against nature in favor of their economies.

Despite many laws and treaties in place to protect habitats, species and nature in general, enforcement of these pieces of legislation is often lacking or even non-existent.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a law enforcement agency that upholds international law on the high seas; we do so legally within the context of internationally accepted regulations. We are doing the work that governments around the world should be doing but seem unwilling or unable to do. It is apparently not a priority to protect areas outside their economic jurisdiction, as there is no short-term political or financial profit to be made by this course of action. This is where Sea Shepherd comes in.