Wrong Off the Press

Sea Shepherd Disputes the January 2, 2006 Guardian article

The January 2 issue of the Guardian (UK) has an article by John Vidal, the environmental editor, entitled "Greenpeace fights sea battle with rival anti-whaling ship."

To set the record straight, no one from Sea Shepherd spoke with Mr. Vidal. On the Sea Shepherd flaghship Farley Mowat which is in the Southern Ocean, Captain Paul Watson said he was surprised by the article.

"I know John personally. He sailed with us to the Faeroe Islands in 2001. I did not speak with him recently. What I can say is that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has no conflict with the Greenpeace Foundation and we are fully in support of Greenpeace efforts in Antarctic waters."

The article said that both groups are accusing each other of attempting to ram Japanese boats.

"We made no such accusation," said Captain Watson, "And I am not aware of
Greenpeace making such an accusation against Sea Shepherd. As far as I am concerned both Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace are working towards a common objective - the shutting down of illegal whaling in the Southern Oceans."

The article uses quotes from the past as if they were made on January 1st. Captain Paul Watson has had disagreements with the Greenpeace bureaucrats for years but has complete respect for the men and women who sail on Greenpeace ships.

"They are down here opposing the whalers. We need diversity in this movement and Greenpeace has one approach and Sea Shepherd has another. The bottom line is that we both oppose whaling and we are both dedicated to shutting down the illegal activities of the Japanese whalers," said Captain Watson. "Greenpeace is not our enemy down here - the Japanese whalers are."

Any of the crew on the two Greenpeace ships can attest that no one from the Farley Mowat has said anything negative about the their crews and no one on the Farley Mowat has heard anything negative from the Greenpeace crews. If there is a feud down here it is one fabricated by the media.

The article also includes a few more errors. The article states that Paul Watson's lifetime Greenpeace membership number is 008. It is in fact 007. The article states that Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was founded in 1978. It was in fact founded in 1977.  The article states that Captain Watson left Greenpeace in 1979. In fact he left in 1977 although he was a founding member of Greenpeace International in 1979. The article states that Captain Paul Watson has been accused of piracy and terrorism leading the reader to believe these are formal and legal accusations and not just the opinions of our opposition. There has never been a legal accusation of piracy or terrorism against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society or any of its officers, directors, or crew.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is surprised that the Guardian and John Vidal would publish this story without speaking with anyone at Sea Shepherd or contacting Captain Paul Watson on the Farley Mowat.

The Guardian Article:

Greenpeace fights sea battle with rival anti-whaling ship

  • Groups accuse each other of attempting to ram boats
    Report of Japanese warship sailing to area

John Vidal, environment editor
Monday January 2, 2006
The Guardian

A battle for what is being called "the high moral wave" was last night being fought off the wild coast of Antarctica as the world's two leading international marine protection groups fought each other over which would stop the Japanese whaling fleet.

With an international crew of volunteers, a helicopter, and a deep warchest, Greenpeace International has sent two boats, the Arctic Sunrise and the faster Esperanza, to the Southern Ocean to stop the Japanese whaling fleet as it tries to catch 900 minke, blue and other whales for "scientific research."

Last night the group, which located and gave chase to the Japanese fleet before Christmas, claimed to have the whalers on the run in mountainous seas peppered with icebergs. "The fleet seems to be running in circles, stopping and going in different directions. It's the sixth day in a row that we have seen no whales transferred to the factory ship. It's unlikely that whaling is being undertaken," said a spokesman.

The animal rights protector Captain Paul Watson, who co-founded Greenpeace in the 1970s and later set up the more radical Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, was also in pursuit of the fleet yesterday in his ship, the Farley Mowat. Capt Watson, who accuses Greenpeace of being "the Avon ladies of the environment" and of being more interested in publicity than in enforcing international law, intercepted the Nisshin Maru factory ship on Christmas Day. Each environmental group now accuses the other of endangering lives by trying to ram its vessels.
Sea Shepherd had requested the presence of the Australian navy to monitor events in the Southern Ocean, but Australia's environment minister, Ian Campbell, said that Sea Shepherd's threats to attack the fleet "risk setting back the cause of whale conservation many years".

Capt Watson said yesterday: "Stop threatening us, Mr Campbell, and charge us if you believe we are acting unlawfully. Stop posing for the Japanese [who] are in blatant violation of international conservation laws."

Despite a short truce at Christmas in which the captains swapped greetings, Capt Watson and Greenpeace were at daggers drawn again yesterday with Sea Shepherd accusing the larger group of refusing to say where the Japanese fleet was.

"Greenpeace has misled Sea Shepherd and betrayed us. The Japanese fleet does not give a damn about protests. [Greenpeace] just take pictures and hang banners. We are down here to enforce international conservation law and to stop the illegal whaling operations."
Greenpeace retorted: "Greenpeace distance themselves from Sea Shepherd because of their inability to commit to non-violent tactics. But we'll do what we can to put bodies between harpoons and whales and protect the whales non-violently," said its spokesman Danny Kennedy. Capt Watson yesterday warned Greenpeace that Japan had dispatched a warship to the Southern Ocean to protect its whaling fleet and arrest the conservationists for piracy. This could not be confirmed.

Last night, the three conservation ships were reportedly trying to spot the Japanese harpoon vessels. "They are sweeping along the [Antarctic] coast corridor with radar and helicopter reconnaissance flights with the objective of ferreting out the positions of the illegal harpoon vessels," said a spokesman for Greenpeace.

The bad blood between Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd goes back to 1979, when Captain Paul Watson, membership number 008, left the Greenpeace Foundation he helped set up in Canada in 1972. In 1978, he formed the Sea Shepherd society. While Greenpeace adopted an ethic of non-violence, Capt Watson, 55, believes in confrontation and has been accused of piracy and terrorism.

As we stated above, there has never been a legal accusation of piracy or terrorism against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society or any of its officers, directors, or crew. Sea Shepherd is contacting the Guardian to have the record corrected.