What say you Greenpeace? - Quit or stay the course

Commentary by Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The Greenpeace Foundation has announced that they will not be returning to Antarctica at the end of the year to oppose illegal Japanese whaling activities.

It is my intention to harass Greenpeace, goad them, and embarrass them until they agree to reconsider and announce that they will be returning.

Why? Because the whales need all the help they can get and the Greenpeace ships with their banner waving and ocean posing photo-op tactics get media attention.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a much smaller organization and we simply can't afford the million-dollar public relations budget that Greenpeace spends to publicize their campaigns.

We will do our thing which will be to intimidate the whale pirates into leaving the Whale Sanctuary and given a fast enough boat we will certainly do that.

Secondly, Greenpeace has raised a great deal of money on the issue of illegal whaling in the Southern Oceans. They continue to raise money with paid ads, door-to-door solicitation, street canvassing, and other fund-raising avenues. If people are going to give Greenpeace money to oppose whaling then they have a moral obligation to spend that money for the purpose that it is given.

With the announcement by Shayne Rattenbury of Greenpeace that they will not be sending their ships back to the Southern Ocean, Greenpeace has effectively betrayed the whales and they have also betrayed all those people who have contributed to the cause of protecting the whales.

So, in addition to working to secure a faster ship to return to Antarctica, Sea Shepherd intends to provoke Greenpeace into reconsidering their decision to not return to Antarctica.

I am confident that Sea Shepherd can stop illegal Japanese whaling without Greenpeace's help. In fact, it might be easier without Rattenbury, Shallhorn, and company constantly attacking our tactics through the media.

However, I believe that strength lies in diversity, and the more diverse the opposition, the stronger the pressure.

Despite a constant barrage of criticism from Greenpeace when our ship was off the coast of Antarctica, Sea Shepherd did not retaliate. We held our tongues because Greenpeace was working for the same goal as Sea Shepherd - to shut down the whalers.

Or were they?

Because to continue to collect donations to protect the whales after announcing that they will not be returning suggests that they may well be exploiting the issue for no other reason than to raise funds.

The Japanese had banners of their own and one of them said that Greenpeace is a sham and another said that Greenpeace is misleading the public.If Greenpeace does not return to the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary in December they will have demonstrated that the Japanese accusations are justified.

With the announcement that they have abandoned the whales, I will no longer be silent about what Greenpeace is doing, or more accurately, not doing.

Once they change their mind I will refrain from any further criticism.

Greenpeace has raised far more money from their campaigns to "protect" the whales than they have spent. If they do not return they will be simply pocketing a profit from their publicity campaign.

There is a third reason that I want Greenpeace to return to Antarctica. As one of the co-founders of what is now a big mean green corporate machine, I would like to see Greenpeace continue with the campaigns that brought them fame and fortune - the campaigns to save the whales.

I was there in 1975 when Greenpeace had little money and lots of guts. We literally invented the "save the whales" movement. I risked my life in small Greenpeace boats to protect whales, and it was during the campaigns of 1975 and 1976 that I became determined to do everything I could to save as many whales as I could for the rest of my life.

I left Greenpeace in 1977 simply because I needed to establish an organization that would intervene against illegal whaling and illegal exploitation of marine resources. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not a protest organization. We are strictly a marine wildlife and habitat conservation organization that opposes illegal activities.

We have our niche and Greenpeace has theirs although it appears that Greenpeace is attempting to abandon that niche.

So, for these reasons, I have one message to send to Greenpeace: Return to the Southern Oceans in December to oppose the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese whaling fleet. Fail to return and I will see to it that the public is reminded that you took their money and did not finish the job, that you quit, retreated, and surrendered.

No one ever said it would be easy to shut down whaling, but quitting is cowardly and sends a strong message to Japan that they beat you - that they scared you because they fired a few harpoons over your head, that one of your crew got tossed into the sea in his survival suit, that one of your boats got bumped, and that some of your crew got seasick.

So, I expect Shayne Rattenbury or Steve Shallhorn or some other talking head from Greenpeace to recant their decision to abandon the whales and to make an announcement that they will indeed be returning.

What say you Greenpeace? Quit or stay the course.

Learn more about Sea Shepherd's Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign.