Greenpeace Condemns Sea Shepherd in Japan

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

First they launch a campaign where Greenpeace activists eat whale meat, then they show up in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary to offer aid and assistance to the damaged Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru, and now the Greenpeace ship Esperanza has berthed in Yokohama, Japan, with a message for the Japanese people.

And that message is that they love Japan, but please don't kill whales in the Antarctic Sanctuary and oh, by the way, we have no connection with, and we condemn the activists of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Gee, I wonder what happened to the aggressive in-their-face, media-savvy, hard-hitting environmental organization that I co-founded way back in 1972. Back then, we shut down whalers on the high seas and equated eating whale meat with cannibalism.

Greenpeace is wrong when they say there is no connection between Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd. Not only am I a co-founder of Greenpeace and Greenpeace International in 1979, the ship we confronted the Japanese whalers with is the Robert Hunter, named after a co-founder and the first president of the Greenpeace Foundation. In fact, the late Robert Hunter is THE founding father of Greenpeace, and without his vision, there would be no Greenpeace Foundation today and all those hired crew on the Esperanza would not be so well paid and sitting down to their steak and seafood dinners on the Esperanza each day. (Note that Greenpeace ridicules the vegetarian menu of the Sea Shepherd ships)

This year, I had the daughter of Robert Hunter, Emily Hunter, on the crew of our ship the Robert Hunter. We were joined by Rod Marining, another co-founder of Greenpeace.

What was really shocking is that none of the crew on the Esperanza appeared to have ever heard of Robert Hunter.

Despite this, Sea Shepherd provided Greenpeace with the daily coordinates to find the Japanese whaling fleet. They took their time arriving, having stayed in Auckland milking the public for donations as the Sea Shepherd crew undertook high profile confrontations with the whale killers. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza arrived just in time to make a show of offering assistance to the damaged whaling ship.

And now they are in Japan. For the last few days, they have been whining about the fact that the Japanese refused to allow them to dock. The issue was that the agent they had hired had withdrawn his services in protest. Officially they were allowed to dock and they have. But they got some ink out of the incident.

Sea Shepherd would not be allowed to dock and we would not expect to be allowed to dock. The difference is that Sea Shepherd is a direct threat to Japanese whaling interests and Greenpeace is not. The other irony is that New Zealand and Australia deny docking privileges to the whalers so why would anyone be surprised that the Japanese would retaliate?

Let's hope that the Japanese don't appeal to Australia and New Zealand to be treated the same way Japan is treating Greenpeace. We don't want Japanese whaling ships docking in New Zealand and Australia.

I wish Greenpeace all the success in the world in their efforts to initiate a "debate" over the whaling issue in Japan. It's their money and they can spend it how they see fit, although I anticipate lots of debates in the sushi bars accompanied by large volumes of sake.

They can all toast their hosts, eat whale meat to show they are not opposed to Japanese culture, and they can come together on the one thing they disagree with and that is both the whalers and the Greenpeacers condemn Sea Shepherd.

And so they should, because we are a threat to both. The only thing making more money off whaling than the Japanese whalers is the Greenpeace Foundation. Last year, Greenpeace brought in tens of millions of dollars from their millions of members to "save the whales."

There is lots of money in saving whales if you invest the money into direct mail campaigns, television, and internet advertising and door-to-door solicitation campaigns. That is where Greenpeace funding primarily is directed - towards raising more funds in order to pay the wages and the operating expenses of what has become one of the largest feel good organizations in the world. Let's face it Greenpeace has become the generic environmental organization and people feel when they join Greenpeace that they are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

This is somewhat similar to when Pope Rodrigo Borgia once promised heaven to large donors to the church. It's now "special ecological dispensation."

But the fact is that the strength of any movement lies in diversity and it is the diversity of tens of thousands of small grass roots organizations and individuals that is making the difference. As activists struggle in the field financially, the larger organizations rake in hundreds of millions of dollars pretending to address the issues but not wanting to rock the boat for fear of offending part of their donor base.

I know of what I speak. Not only am I a founding director of Greenpeace, I was also a Board member of the Sierra Club USA (2003-2006), and I saw incredible waste of funds and a smoke and mirrors approach of appearing to address problems but not doing very much at all.

The best way to tell the difference between the Sea Shepherd approach to whaling and that of Greenpeace is this: When Greenpeace shows up in Antarctica, they film whaling and buzz the whalers in inflatable boats. The whalers simply continue whaling looking at Greenpeacers as a minor annoyance. When Sea Shepherd ships show up, the whalers stop the killing and they run.

When people ask us why we don't have video images of whales being killed our answer is that since 1977, the year I left Greenpeace, I have not seen a whale die. I saw plenty of whales die when I was with Greenpeace and I was forced to watch frustrated and helpless as the whales screamed in agony and died in their own blood and we were forbidden to interfere.

Greenpeace accuses Sea Shepherd of being violent, yet in 30 years of operations we have not injured a single person nor have we had a single crewmember seriously injured. We have not been convicted of a single felony. Greenpeace has had numerous felony convictions and their activists killed and injured.

But Greenpeace is desperate to appease the Japanese, and towards this end they are condemning Sea Shepherd as an eco-terrorist organization and trying to convince the Japanese whalers that there is no connection between Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace.

There is a connection, and that is the fact that Sea Shepherd is the original Greenpeace Foundation the way it was before the six-figure executive salaries and the thirty-million dollar luxury ships that they can no longer afford to lose.

Sea Shepherd is not interested in touring Japan, sharing whale meat, and sake with whale killers, and we are not interested in entering years of fruitless debates with the Japanese public over whaling. The majority of the Canadian public is against the seal hunt yet it continues.

Sea Shepherd is interested in simply upholding international conservation law by directly intervening against criminal whaling operations. We are not interested in protesting whaling or profiting on the save the whales movement. We are interested in only one thing and that is shutting down the whalers.

If Greenpeace wishes to condemn that objective and to condemn our interventions, that is their choice. That kind of approach is not going to save a single whale...but it may get some drinks bought for them in Tokyo this week.