The Truth about Greenpeace and Whaling

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

  "It does not matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true."
                                                 - Dr. Patrick Moore, President of Greenpeace Canada 1981

Enough is enough. The Greenpeace fraud about saving the whales must be exposed. For years, I have been tolerating their pretense of action and watching them rake in tremendous profits from whaling.

Greenpeace makes more money from anti-whaling than Norway and Iceland combined make from whaling. In both cases, the whales die and someone profits.

I just received two urgent emotional appeals from Greenpeace to save the whales. The first was from Melanie Duchin and the second from Nathan Santray.

Melanie, who describes herself as a Greenpeace ocean campaigner, wants money so she can go down to the Southern Oceans to save the whales. She says she will be fighting to help the whales escape and states that for every dollar you donate it will mean another hour, day, or week that Greenpeace can stay on the water "saving" whales.

Their success according to Melanie will depend on YOU sending a donation NOW. She's right, of course. The Greenpeace campaign is not about looking for whaling ships. Success to Greenpeace is about recruiting  memberships.

What Melanie does not tell you is that Greenpeace has already raised tens of millions of dollars this year to "save" the whales, and tens of millions of dollars the year before, and the year before that.

In fact, Greenpeace has raised a mind-boggling hundreds of millions of dollars pretending to save whales over the years and yet they have not stopped the Japanese from killing a single whale.

Nathan Santray describes himself as the Action Director for Greenpeace. He reports that last year he was instrumental in saving the whales and now he is heading back to the Southern Oceans to defend the whales again. BUT he can't do it without your support so please send him a donation right away. They absolutely must raise $50,000 by the end of the year.

What he does not tell you is that Greenpeace raises more than $50,000 in donations every day. But Nathan assures us that he will be there "fighting to save every whale we can and we urgently need your help."

Nathan and his crewmates will maneuver their little rubber Greenpeace boats into the path of the fire hoses where they will be filmed being "attacked" with high power hoses. They will do that for hours and it looks very dramatic. But it's all just ocean posing folks. Last year, my crew quite easily avoided the fire hoses. In fact, the only way they could have been hit would have been to steer directly into the path of the water. The Japanese whalers stupidly participated in the charade not realizing that they were playing right into Greenpeace's hands. They haven't realized yet that the best tactic to deploy against Greenpeace is to simply ignore them because they are harmless.

The Greenpeace plea also states that, "only Greenpeace stands between the harpoons and the whales." And "Greenpeace is the only hope for the whales."

This, of course, is a direct slap in the face to my 70 international volunteers who are on their way to actually physically intervening against illegal Japanese whaling. Unlike the paid Greenpeace crew, the Sea Shepherd volunteers are not going down to the Southern Oceans to take pictures of whales dying, they are going down to there to stop illegal whaling activities.

Greenpeace simply ignores the efforts of other groups opposing whaling including Sea Shepherd, the only organization to have actually shut down whaling operations. The fact that Sea Shepherd chased the Japanese whalers away last year while Greenpeace was filming the whales dying seems to have been forgotten. That was where Greenpeace turned off their cameras. 

This year's annual appeal to save whales by Greenpeace is just the latest public relations strategy in a global campaign to fleece money from people of good conscience. The Greenpeace Foundation, of which I was a co-founder back in 1972, is today simply a multi-million dollar feel-good organization. They are selling the illusion of making a difference to a gullible public.

Greenpeace is a major international corporation. Over the years, those of us who envisioned and founded Greenpeace way back when, have watched in frustration and anger as faceless bureaucrats turned ideals into profits, secure in their understanding that the media myth of Greenpeace cannot be tarnished irreparably within the mass media culture. For every person who gets wise to their scam, two more are recruited. Greenpeace is a massive direct mail publicity machine utilizing media and psychology to part people from their money.

Together many of us from the early days feel like modern-day Dr. Frankensteins. We created a large green corporate monster that has forgotten where it came from and is now busy feeding frantically at the trough of public guilt. Greenpeace has become the world's largest multinational "feel-good" corporation. People join to feel that they are a part of the solution and not part of the problem. So Greenpeace hangs banners, calls boycotts, knocks on doors, and sends out direct mail solicitations. Consequently, they haul in tons of cash, supporting an army of eco-bureaucrats and fueling a global public relations campaign which postures on the myth that Greenpeace is saving the world.

Greenpeace is posing and marketing the illusion of saving the planet and they have an army of gullible volunteers and paid canvassers who have been talked into believing that Greenpeace is really, really saving the environment and saving whales in particular.
When I left Greenpeace in 1977, I could have set up another knock-on-the-door-direct-mail- telephone-soliciting group to chase the green dollars. The problem is that I left Greenpeace to actually do something and that meant taking to the high seas to directly intervene against the slaughter of whales and the destruction of the ocean.

The last time I saw a whale die in agony before my eyes was on my last Greenpeace whale campaign in 1976. When Sea Shepherd shows up, the killing stops and the whalers run.

We don't look for photo opportunities; we look for opportunities to shut down illegal whaling operations. We have shut down whaling ships permanently in Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Iceland, and Norway. We've sunk nine of them without injuring anyone and without being convicted of a single felony. The reason is that our targets are criminal operations.

Greenpeace does not even oppose whaling.

These are actual quotes from Greenpeace spokespersons:

"Greenpeace is not opposed to whaling in principle."
          - John Frizell, Director of Greenpeace International. From the Greenpeace Policy Paper 1994

"As a natural scientist I cannot accept that Greenpeace is opposed to whaling. One must be allowed to harvest a renewable resource. To me, this is an important principle."
         - Leif Ryvarden, former Chairman of Greenpeace Norway. From an interview with Dagbladet, August 2, 1991

"The 1993 Minke whale harvest did not constitute a threat to the stock."
         - Ingrid Bertinussen, Greenpeace Norway Director. From an interview on Norwegian radio (NRK), October 22, 1993

"The Norwegian catch is not a threat to the Minke whale stock,"
         - Kalle Hesstvedt of Greenpeace Norway in a remarkable interview with the Norwegian newspaper, "Nordlys" on May 21. Hesstvedt does not rule out the possibility that Greenpeace might accept commercial whaling when catch quotas are allocated by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). He repeated the statement on Norwegian radio (NRK) on the same day.

In 1997, I had Greenpeace investigated by the National Marine Fisheries Service of the United States for participating in a whale hunt. Greenpeace crew on the Arctic Sunrise actually towed a slaughtered bowhead whale to shore as a favour for the Inupiat whalers in the Bering Sea. In doing so, they violated both U.S. and international law. The incident was reported widely in the Alaskan media and the whalers used the incident to ridicule Greenpeace at the 1997 International Whaling Commission meeting in Monaco.

And it is not just whales that Greenpeace is betraying.

The same Melanie Duchin who needs your money to "save" the whales said only last month that Greenpeace is not opposed to the hunting of polar bears. She was quoted in the Alaskan media as saying, "If the species of certain populations against the backdrop of global warming can sustain a commercial hunt, than we're not going to oppose it."

And Greenpeace raises millions of dollars from people concerned about the cruel slaughter of seals in Canada, yet Greenpeace has not opposed the Canadian seal hunt in more than two decades. The official Greenpeace position on the harp seal slaughter, the largest massacre of marine mammals on the planet is that the hunt is "sustainable."

There are many who lament that it is a sad thing that different groups cannot work together. Sad though it might be, it is a fact. The objectives of an organization with highly paid executives is far different from an organization of volunteers. We have different objectives. While we look for whaling ships, Greenpeace looks for memberships.

Nonetheless, I have approached Greenpeace for years with offers to work in cooperation with them. They responded with insults or simply ignored us. They even tried to deny that I was a co-founder of their own organization.

A volunteer organization like Sea Shepherd is in business to put ourselves out of business. A large eco-corporation like Greenpeace is in business to keep itself in business, and whaling, sealing, over-fishing, global warming, and other assorted issues are simply the raw material that Greenpeace uses to turn people's concerns into profits.

I know that I am taking a risk in publicly exposing Greenpeace as a fraud. I know it shatters people's illusions, but some illusions need shattering. The real strength of the environmental and conservation movements lies in the diversity of individual activists and small grassroots organizations that large corporate organizations like Greenpeace parasitically rob energy and support from.

And to be fair, it is not just Greenpeace. While Francois Hugo struggles by himself to save South Africa fur seals with a meager budget, using his own money and volunteering his time, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) raises millions on appeals for the same seals yet spends nothing on protecting them. In fact a $10 million dollar bequest recently received by IFAW is being spent on building a new IFAW office building in Cape Cod.

In my opinion, it is completely immoral for organizations to be paying six-figure salaries to desk-bound bureaucrats sitting in multi-million dollar office buildings as real, dedicated activists struggle in the fields to rehabilitate injured seals or are arrested trying to stop the slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

This entire movement is held up on the blood, sweat, and tears of tens of thousands of individuals struggling for ecological justice with minimal resources while a small, elite group skims the vast amounts of money from the public purse to be spent on large salaries, public relations posturing, and fund-raising.

It's obscene, and it is high time that people woke up and saw these large green organizations for what they really are - high-powered public relation machines designed to fleece the public.

Greenpeace will not save any whales again this year. They will accuse us of being eco-terrorists for intervening to defend the whales. They will be spending mega-bucks on TV ads, direct mail appeals, and internet banner advertising. All this as the whales continue to die in horrific agony, choking on their own blood as Greenpeace cameramen record every emotional tear-jerking moment to beam back to the head office to aid in the never-ending quest for money, money, and more money.

It is now the Green Piece organization. They have become very successful and efficient with their incredible corporate skills in turning hot red blood into cold green cash.