Sea Shepherd Commentary & Editorial articles from 2012 and earlier.

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


The Party is Getting Old in Panama

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

I have an excuse for not attending the current meeting of the International Whaling Commission. Germany is not allowing me to leave their wonderful nation because Costa Rica wants me extradited for the horrendous “crime” of saving sharks a decade ago.

I don’t think I will be missing much other than the satisfaction of terrifying the Japanese delegates who tend to grow frightfully pale when they see me at this annual feud between whale huggers and whale killers.

I do grow weary of the annual charade now playing out in Panama. Once again the impotent, greedy, ruthless forces of anthropocentrism and anthrocultural imperialism gather to sit in judgment of the magnificent minds in our oceans.

Who is really in charge in Costa Rica?

Commentary by Captain Alex Cornelissen

Dead sharks from an illegal shark finning operationAbout a month ago I was asked to fly to Costa Rica and meet with politicians and our local lawyer to see if we could find a solution for the insane court case Captain Watson is being dragged into. I met with the Minister of Environment and several of his staff and in a closed-door meeting we came to several agreements. One of which was that we would not talk to the press about this. To my surprise, two days later I read an article in a Costa Rican paper quoting word for word what I said in the meeting; so much for closed-door meetings with Costa Rican’ politicians.

Our strategy from the beginning of this case has been to try to work with the authorities in Costa Rica. Despite the desire of the vast majority of our supporters, we have not only kept quiet about a tourist boycott, we have even advised against the boycott believing we can find a solution that will help Costa Rica, Sea Shepherd and most importantly, the sharks. We have offered to return to Costa Rica and continue where we were stopped ten years ago. Our offer even went further, I personally promised we would fund and install an AIS network around Cocos Island; similar to what Sea Shepherd has done in the Galapagos. After all we have the knowledge and the experience to do so. Such a network would instantly improve control of Cocos Island National Park. But apparently there are things happening around Cocos Island that the Costa Rican government does not want the world to see.

The Mystery of Cocos Island

By Captain Paul Watson

There is an agenda here that remains a mystery,
A decade ago we saved hundreds of sharks.
Of this event we have a documented history,
In our efforts to defend Costa Rican marine parks.

With permission of Guatemala we ended the slaughter,
Without causing injury, death or destruction,
We made a powerful film entitled Sharkwater,
To shark finning we became a major obstruction.

Sea Lions Aren’t the Dam Problem on the Columbia River!

Commentary by Sandy McElhaney

Sea Lions in Astoria, Oregon. Photo: Kimber HamiltonSea Lions in Astoria, Oregon.
Photo: Kimber Hamilton
On April 3, 2012, Oregon and Washington began an annual cull of California sea lions on the Columbia River.  State workers brand the marine mammals with searing hot irons, shoot them with rubber bullets, and kill them by lethal injection -- all for the crime of eating “endangered” salmon.  As horrific as these acts are, they are authorized and supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service.  Since the cull began in 2008, at least 39 sea lions have been killed and 11 are in captivity.

Salmon fishing is big business on the Columbia River. Sea lions are tortured and killed for eating little more than 1 percent of the annual salmon run.  Conversely, commercial, tribal, and recreational fishermen are encouraged to catch about 17 percent of the endangered fish.  Anglers have long complained that sea lions compete with them for salmon. Their solution is to get rid of the sea lions. They have full backing by local politicians and the federal government.

Namibia's Shameful Secret

By Rosie Kunneke, Nikki Botha and Dinielle Stöckigt (Sea Shepherds from South Africa and Operation Desert Seal team members)

Sea Shepherd representatives with Namibian Ombudsman, John Walters (L)Sea Shepherd representatives with Namibian Ombudsman, John Walters (L)Every year it is the same heart-breaking story. Come June/July, the powers that be in Namibia give their blessing for the start of the cruelest seal cull in the world. Up to 90,000 seal pups are herded for cruel slaughter. The stress and confusion the club wielding men cause the colony of seals is beyond any decent person’s imagination. Yet, the worst is still to come. Young pups still trying to grow from their mother’s sweet milk are mercilessly hit over their heads and all over their bodies. Then, whether they are alive or dead, they are stabbed and slashed open with knives, mother’s milk running from their mouths and noses and their blood freely flowing from their writhing little bodies. Mothers call out to their dead and injured pups to no avail. The male seals, also called bulls, are then shot through the head with a gun. A bullet to their brain ends life for 6,000 – 7,000 of these males. Their agony is short lived compared to that of the babies in the colony. The permit holders who get the permits for slaughter from the government say it is for profit, however, the government claims it is population control because the seals consume too many fish, and that the seal fur industry provides employment.

The Damn Hunger Games on the Columbia River

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

A Sea Lion painfully branded by government workers for monitoring. Photo: Erwin VermeulenA Sea Lion painfully branded by government workers for monitoring. Photo: Erwin VermeulenSince taking on the issue of defending the sea lions at the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, Sea Shepherd has received some nasty hate mail and criticisms from some members of the public.

My favorites are the ones that say, “I supported you in defending the whales and the dolphins but I don’t support you with defending sea lions.”

The comments refer to our campaign with adjectives like  “misguided, stupid, irresponsible etc, etc.”

According to some of these critics Sea Shepherd does not care about the endangered salmon and sea lions are abundant and sea lions belong in the sea and not in the river and numerous other complaints from the advocates of lethal solutions to what they perceive as a problem.

The Law Takes Precedence Over Justice in Germany

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Paul Watson in Antarctica during the most recent Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Divine Wind, which successfully saved 768 whales from a horrific death.  Photo:  Billy DangerI remain a prisoner in Germany in a case that has become highly unusual, controversial and international.

On May 13th, 2012, I was arrested at Frankfurt airport in Germany because in October 2011, Costa Rica issued an order for my arrest and extradition for an incident that had taken place in 2002.

That incident involved a confrontation between the Sea Shepherd crew and a poaching vessel that we caught finning sharks in Guatemalan waters. We were given permission to intervene to stop the killing of the sharks by the Guatemalan government. No one was injured and there was no property damage but the Costa Rican poachers accused us of endangering their lives.

And 10 years later I found myself arrested in Germany because of this complaint.

Advocating for Environmental Justice in the Pacific Ocean

Commentary by the Sea Shepherd Galapagos

photo: Eric Chengphoto: Eric ChengAfter two years of advocacy, we now may be witnessing the beginning of judicial transformation in the Galapagos Islands. As part of a nationwide process, the national judicial authority of Ecuador is not only assessing the creation of the first judiciary specialized on environmental matters, but also its establishment in the Galapagos Islands.

If created, the pioneer environmental authority will be a model for improving judicial response in marine protected areas- an issue raised by Sea Shepherd since the very beginning of its advocacy towards judicial specialization on environmental law.

After two years, this legal project, which aims at enforcing marine protection laws in courts of law, has proven just how important the role of the judicial system could be for the protection of marine species. We have learned that for laws on marine protection to effectively rule, specialized judges are needed just as much as specialized policemen and prosecutors. At present, Galapagos may be on the verge of becoming the first archipelago, on this side of the Pacific, to inaugurate such judicial specialization.

A Call From Berlin To Defend Our Oceans

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

What a day!

Captain Watson joins Sea Shepherd supporters in Berlin. Photo: Jan HolsteCaptain Watson joins Sea Shepherd supporters in Berlin. Photo: Jan HolsteWith only a couple of hours sleep, Scott West and I caught a cab to Frankfurt airport at 0430 hours with a stop on the way for my first report of the day to the Frankfurt police station. We caught the 0730 flight to Berlin where we were met by Jean and Ulrike of Sea Shepherd Berlin and from there were driven straight to the Victory Statue plaza where Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla Miranda of Costa Rica was due to pass by.

When we arrived there were already about a hundred people present and not long after, the Costa Rican President drove by on her way into the city. We clearly got her attention. We knew she would be coming back for her scheduled meeting with the German government at Schloss Bellevue, the residence of the German President. As we waited hundreds more people arrived all wearing Sea Shepherd shirts, some from Hamburg, Munich and Bremerhaven, Cologne and others from Australia, Netherlands, and even Costa Rica.

Greetings From Germany

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Paul Watson with Sea Shepherd Germany volunteers and supportersI would like to thank everyone around the world for the incredible support over the last week that I spent in a Frankfurt prison. It is greatly appreciated. The people of Sea Shepherd Germany have been wonderful and I have been happy to see so much support from supporters in Costa Rica and around the world also.

We have an excellent worldwide legal team working hard to resolve this legal issue. I am confident that this team will do the very best they can on every front involved with this case.

Although I have no reason to believe that the Costa Rican legal system would not give me a fair trial, my concern is not for the judicial system, but for the reality that the shark fin mafia of Costa Rica has a price on my head and a Costa Rican prison would provide an excellent opportunity for someone to exercise this lethal contract against me. We have cost the shark finners a great deal of money over the last two decades and they want their revenge. I would need absolute assurance that the Costa Rican authorities would not place me in the position to jeopardize my safety when I return to Costa Rica to prove my innocence in court.