Green Peace and Sea Shepherd - United to Oppose Illegal Whaling

Commentary by Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

This week Green Peace spokesperson Pia Mancia told the media that any association between Sea Shepherd and Green Peace is rubbish.

Unfortunately, this presents a credibility problem for Green Peace. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Green Peace Foundation have been linked intimately together for three decades.

This relationship with Sea Shepherd cannot be so lightly dismissed.

In this article, I use Greenpeace to describe the organization as it was originally, when it was both organization and movement. I use Green Peace when referring to the organization after it was brought under total control by a bureacracy. My hope is that the Green will someday be rejoined with the Peace.

Today, I am the only original crewmember from the first Greenpeace voyages that continues to be active on the high seas. I was a participant on the first campaign to protest nuclear testing at Amchitka Island in 1971. I was a founding director of the Greenpeace Foundation in 1972 and the 1st Officer on the first Greepeace voyage to protect the whales in 1975. I was a co-founder of Greenpeace International in 1979 and I was the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977.

The first directors of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977 were Al Johnson, the founder of Greenpeace USA; Starlet Lum, the founder of Greenpeace Quebec; and Ron Precious, the cameraman on numerous Greenpeace voyages.

Sea Shepherd crew over the years have included Robert Hunter, the first President of Greenpeace, and other crew members from the first voyage like Rod Marining, Lyle Thurston, and Captain John Cormack. Sea Shepherd crew have also included numerous crewmates who sailed with me on the Green Peace voyages over the years. Many Sea Shepherd crew have sailed on Green Peace ships.

Some of the bureaucrats in Green Peace today have a revisionist view of events as to the circumstances of my leaving Green Peace. The story they circulate now is that I was removed from Green Peace for advocating violent tactics.

This was not the reason. The real reason that I was voted off the board was for opposing Patrick Moore as the new president of the Board. Patrick Moore, by the way, now works for the forest and bio-chemical industries.

I was not thrown out of Greenpeace. On the contrary, I have always been a member. My lifetime membership number is 007. Since Robert Hunter had the membership number of 000 this makes me the eighth member of Greenpeace.

I am still very much a member of Greenpeace, however, I am no longer active with Green Peace.

When I set up Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977, it was not to compete against Greenpeace but to specialize in interventions against illegal activities exploiting marine wildlife. We worked with Greenpeace and evidence of this can be found in the pages of the autumn edition of the Greenpeace Chronicles 1979.

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The story of Sea Shepherd hunting down and ramming the pirate whaler Sierra was the cover story of the Greenpeace newsletter, with our photographs and written by me. The story also included a link to the Sea Shepherd address.

In October of 1979, I met with other original members of Greenpeace to resolve a dispute between Green Peace Canada and Green Peace USA and the agreement we reached was to form Green Peace International. I am one of the eight signatories establishing Green Peace International.

Letter establishing Greenpeace

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Robert Hunter letter

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Over the years since there has been some animosity because of people who I have never met, bureaucrats really, who perceived Sea Shepherd as a threat to fundraising. I suppose they saw us as competition.

The low point in our relationship was in November 1986 after Sea Shepherd had shut down illegal Icelandic whaling activities. I was doing a talk show in the city of Vancouver when someone called in a bomb threat because they said I was "violent." Strange logic but the station was evacuated to wait for the bomb squad.

As we were waiting on the sidewalk, a reporter shoved a microphone in my face and asked for my response to a statement issued by Green Peace that I was an eco-terrorist. Now the last thing I wanted was a petty squabble with Green Peace so I thought I would lightly dismiss it by saying, "What else can you expect from the Avon ladies of the environmental movement?"

I was referring to their door-to-door campaigns asking for money. As a result, they were furious and I've had enemies in Green Peace ever since. It is sort of like Ireland, the hatred of me seems to pass on to the next generation to people I've never met and never heard of.

But, the fact remains that Green Peace and Sea Shepherd have been associated with each other since 1977. I have remained close friends with most of my original shipmates from the Greenpeace days and many of them have sailed with me on Sea Shepherd ships.

In fact, some of my crew on the ship right now once crewed with Green Peace. Emily Hunter the daughter of the late Robert Hunter, the first president of Greenpeace, is a crewmember on the Farley Mowat down here in the Southern Oceans at the moment.

I also have nothing but respect for those who crew Green Peace ships today, and I wish I could say the same about those in the office who make comments about things they know nothing about and attempt to censor and rewrite their own history so as to remove people they don't like or disagree with - people like myself, for example.

I can't speak for Green Peace the organization, but I can speak to the spirit that created Greenpeace and the Greenpeace movement. Like it or not by some, I am a bona fide Greenpeace founder and Greenpeace elder.

When the Green Peace Foundation was first formed, we took the name "foundation" from the Issac Asimov Foundation Trilogy. In that story there is the Foundation and the 2nd Foundation. The 2nd Foundation was established to further the work of the Foundation and it was to remain small as the Foundation grew. The 2nd Foundation was to keep close to the roots as the Foundation expanded. The 2nd Foundation was to direct and influence. In the book, the Foundation is unaware of the very existence of the 2nd Foundation and when they become aware, they attempt to discredit, deny, and destroy it.

It is amazing how that work of science fiction defines so well the relationship between Sea Shepherd and Green Peace. We are in effect the 2nd Green Peace Foundation. Of course, they will deny it, but the Foundation denied it in the book also, so this can be said to be predictable.

In response to the accusations of piracy by Japan, Green Peace has taken a defensive position. They really don't have anything to apologize for. Instead of trying to disassociate themselves from Sea Shepherd they should be concentrating solely on denouncing the Japanese for the illegal slaughter of whales.

Green Peace spokesman Danny Kennedy is quoted as saying, "Greenpeace distances ourselves from Sea Shepherd because of their inability to commit to non-violent tactics,"

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a non-violent organization that has never caused an injury during our entire history. Sea Shepherd has a great deal in common with Green Peace. Green Peace works in cooperation with Earth First!, a group that regularly damages property whereas Sea Shepherd only attacks property that is used for illegal purposes.

The bottom line is that although I may feel like Dr. Frankenstein at times in helping to create a big corporate monster, the truth is that I am proud of my role in creating the Green Peace movement.

Green Peace and Sea Shepherd were born from the same roots and we have always been and we will always be associated, linked, and bonded together. This may be denied, denounced, lamented, and regretted but there is no escaping this truth.

So Sea Shepherd will continue to work in cooperation with Green Peace to end whaling and to protect the seas.

Perhaps one day we can bring the peace back to the green and make it Greenpeace once again.