Apology to the Center for Biological Diversity

Photo courtesy of Eugene Lewi

In our posting about the Polar bear being listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species, we stated that Greenpeace and the Center for Biological Diversity were opposed to the listing.

We were wrong about the Center for Biological Diversity. They were instrumental in helping to get the polar bear listed.

The mistake was made because of a statement by Kassie Siegel, a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, who said in 2005 that "if polar bears are listed under the Endangered Species Act, it would affect the importation of polar bear trophies to the United States." However, she said there are precedents whereby trophies have been allowed for animals listed under the legislation.

"We want the sport hunting to be sustainable," Siegal said. "We have some concerns about hunting levels in Greenland, in parts of Russia, and in some parts of Canada, but it was not the intent of this petition to impact sport hunting in Canada."

We pointed this out in our original posting in 2006 and there was no protest from the Center for Biological Diversity at the time.

After our May 14th posting, the Center for Biological Diversity's Executive Director Kieran Suckling called Sea Shepherd angrily to admonish us over this. Captain Paul Watson told him that we would clarify the posting and that we would point out that the Center in fact did actively work to have the polar bear listed.

Our confusion was caused by the statement attributed to the Center's lawyer Kassie Siegel that certainly appeared to support the hunting of polar bears, and you can't have a "sustainable" polar bear hunt and have the bear listed as threatened.

Mr. Suckling also said that Sea Shepherd had no right to claim sole credit for the listing, but our posting never said any such thing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department received pressure from numerous organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity and Sea Shepherd amongst many others.

Captain Paul Watson was unable to explain to Mr. Suckling the reason for the mistake because after Mr. Suckling irately blasted Captain Watson, he hung up.

However I think Kassie Siegal's statement made it very clear that the Center for Biological Diversity in her opinion was not opposed in principle to the sport hunting of polar bears. That lack of clarity on the issue led to our mistake in stating that the Center opposed the listing.

Why would the Center for Biological Diversity not have the intention of impacting sport hunting in Canada? Protecting Polar bears in the U.S. without protection in Canada will not save the polar bears. In fact the listing will put even more pressure on the bears in Canada and Russia because the hunters will no longer be allowed to hunt in Alaska.
Mr. Suckling said that our posting will destroy whatever credibility the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has and will expose our desperation to be seen as an activist organization.

That statement was of course somewhat confusing. We don't believe there is a more activist organization on the high seas than Sea Shepherd. We are not that desperate. The Center for Biological Diversity may well be an effective activist organization in the courts and in the political world but out in the field is where we do our work and we do it more effectively than anyone else.

The bottom line however is that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does indeed appreciate the effort that the Center for Biological Diversity has invested in working towards the listing for the polar bear. We apologize for the confusion and we are thankful that the Polar bear has been listed and we don't give a damn about who gets the credit.