Saving Sea Dogs & Cats and Sharks in Paradise

by Captain Paul Watson

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a marine wildlife conservation organization that is dedicated to the enforcement of international laws protecting marine species and habitats. For example, we are opposed to overfishing in many forms including longlining and shark finning -- two worldwide problems that are devastating shark populations.

Over the years, however, we have found ourselves in quite a different situation of defending dogs and cats and defending marine species from dogs and cats.

The Dogs & Cats of the Galapagos Islands

For the last two years, we have been working with the San Francisco-based group Animal Balance. We have transported the tons of material that they needed to spay and neuter over a thousand dogs and cats on the Galapagos Islands of Isabela and San Cristobal.

We are presently transporting more supplies to the Galapagos to continue this effort.

Earlier this year, my wife Allison spent three weeks on San Cristobal assisting the veterinarians with their efforts to capture and fix the dogs and cats.

Allison found and rescued a seal, and helps veterinarians work to save it

With her newly adopted dog in the Galapagos

The Animal Balance truck -- full of dogs being taken to be spayed and neutered

Allison, (back row, second from left) with the Animal Balance folks

What has this to do with marine conservation, some have asked?

As it turns out, there is an important connection. Last year, dogs killed over 150 marine iguanas on San Cristobal alone. The Special Law for the Galapagos specifically forbids dogs from being on the islands, but despite the law, there are thousands of dogs brought over by the fishermen who are laying waste to the sea cucumbers, the lobsters, and the sharks. As the fishermen plunder the surrounding seas, their dogs hunt in killing packs on the shore.

With the laws not being enforced by the government, the best we can do is to assist a group like Animal Balance whose objective is to reduce the dog population on the Enchanted Isles.

Dogs Used as Bait

Meanwhile, dogs and cats are also involved in another assault on nature, this time as victims and as bait. On the French island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean, fishermen have been using live dogs and cats as bait for sharks.


This practice is specifically outlawed by French law but the law, as in many places throughout the world, is ignored by fishing communities who apparently believe they are above the law.

The dogs and cats have hooks passed through their snouts or through the tendons in their legs and the hooks are attached to lines and rods. The hapless animals are then tossed into the water where their struggles attract sharks.

In response to this Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has sent a message to the police in La Reunion offering a reward of €1,000 (Euros) for the first successful conviction of a fisherman using a dog or cat as bait and €200 for each conviction thereafter.

The following letter was sent to the Chief of Police on La Reunion Island:

To: The Police
La Reunion Island

The international Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is offering a reward of 200 Euros to any police officer who successfully enforces the law prohibiting the use of dogs and cats as bait for the catching of sharks.

The Society is offering a reward of 1,000 Euros for the first conviction and 200 Euros for each conviction thereafter.

The reward will be paid upon the successful conviction of any person found guilty of using dogs or cats as bait in shark fishing as defined by the laws of France that specifically outlaw this practice.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society wishes to advise all police captains that they may submit the names of officers who have arrested suspects for using dogs or cats as shark bait and that the reward will be paid directly to the officer or officers upon a successful conviction.


Captain Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

La Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Internationale offrira une récompense de 200 Euros à tout officier de police qui renforcera de manière efficace la loi interdisant l' utilisation de chiens en tant qu' appât  pour attrapper les requins.

La Sea Shepherd Conservation Society offrira une récompense de 1000 Euros pour la première inculpation et 200 Euros pour chaque suivante.

La récompense sera versée au terme de chaque inculpation réussie de toute personne reconnue coupable d'utilisation de chiens en tant qu'appât pour pêcher des requins. Comme il est clairement specifié par les lois de la France, cette pratique est absolument interdite.

La Sea Shepherd Conservation Society tient à informer tous les capitaines de police qu'il pourra s'avérer necessaire de fournir les noms des officiers
ayant arrêté les suspects responsables de l'utilisation de chiens en tant qu'appât à requins. La récompense sera versée directement à ou aux officiers responsables de l'inculpation  réussie des dits suspects.


Captain Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society