You have not lived until you have found something worth dying for” ~ Captain Paul Watson
Paul Franklin Watson aka Captain Paul Watson is a man on a mission- to save the planet and its oceans. Born on December 2, 1950, Paul Watson is a Canadian animal rights and environmental activist, who founded Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (commonly known as Sea Shepherd, SS or SSCS), a direct action group devoted to marine conservation.
The Toronto native joined a Sierra Club protest against nuclear testing in 1969. He was one of the youngest co-founders of Greenpeace, crewed and skippered for it, and later was a board member. Watson argued for a strategy of direct action that conflicted with the Greenpeace interpretation of non-violence, was ousted from the board in 1977, and subsequently left the organization. That same year, he formed Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The Antarctic anti-whaling campaign of the group is the subject of a reality show, Whale Wars (aired on the Discovery Network).
He also promotes veganism, voluntary human population control, and a biocentric, rather than anthropocentric, world view. In January 2008 Paul Watson was listed by The Guardian as one of “50 people who could save the planet” for his work with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Siddhant Sadangi gets a chance to talk to living legend Captain Paul Watson.
Siddanth: Can you tell our readers something about yourself?
Paul: Not exactly sure where to start with this question. I was the co-founder of the Greenpeace Foundation in 1972 and the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977. Presently I am the head of Sea Shepherd International in command of three ships and a crew of international volunteers. I was born in 1950. I am unmarried but I have a daughter that I love immensely.
I have no plans to ever retire from what I have done all of my life – activism in defense of our oceans.
Siddanth: You were the youngest co-founder of Greenpeace. What inspired you in this direction at such an early age?
Paul: I began rescuing beavers from traps when I was eleven years old. I was raised in an Eastern Canadian fishing village. I joined up with the people who organized the Don’t Make a Wave Committee in 1969 when I was 18 to oppose nuclear weapons testing in the Alaskan Aleutian islands. I was concerned that the tests were taking place in a wildlife preserve. In 1972, the Don’t Make a Wave Committee became the Greenpeace Foundation. In 1975, I had an experience that changed my life when a harpooned Sperm whale in agony could have taken my life but did not so and thus I feel a debt to that whale and to all whales to do what I can to save as many of them as I can while I live.
Siddanth: Could you provide a brief outline of your purpose, mission and vision?
Our objective is to uphold international conservation law in accordance with the principles of the United Nations World Charter for Nature.
Sea Shepherd is an anti-poaching organization. We also have a message and that is if we can’t prevent the diminishment of biodiversity in the world’s oceans the oceans will die and if the oceans die – we die. Humanity will go extinct.
Siddanth: What is your primary approach to promoting this concept?
Paul Direct intervention against illegal activities exploiting marine wildlife by utilizing aggressive non-violent tactics. We intervene against poachers and physically block their activities. We act in accordance with the United Nation World Charter for Nature that allows for us to intervene as a non-governmental organization to uphold international conservation law. We act aggressively but non-violently and we act within the boundaries of both the law and practicality, utilizing classical martial strategies as outlined by Sun Tzu and Miyamota Musashi, and media strategies as outlined by Marshall McLuhan.
Saving lives from harpoons – a weekly series documenting Sea Shepherd on Animal Planet
Yes, it goes everywhere.
Badass Rutger Hauer opens Sea Shepherd HQ Amsterdam (Blade Runner, The Juggers, The Hitcher)
It’s a special crowd; Gerard Francis Cayol
Christian Bale arrives at Taiji. That’s right, Batman.
Siddanth: What inspires you (and motivates you to inspire others) to venture out there with this concept?
What inspires me is the knowledge that humanity is destroying biodiversity and thus undermining the life support system of this planet.
I believe we all have a moral obligation to defend our eco-systems from diminishment and destruction and that we owe future generations the right to a healthy and diverse environment. We have no right to rob them of the rich treasures that this planet contains just to satisfy our selfish material desires. What inspires me is the beauty and the magnificence of Planet Earth and especially our oceans.
Siddanth: Congratulations on the grand success of Operation No Compromise. What should we be looking forward to now?
Paul: We will be prepared to return to the Southern Ocean in December if the Japanese whaling fleet returns. Before that however we will be tackling bluefin tuna poachers in the Mediterranean in June and defending pilot whales in the Faroe Islands in July through September with our vessels Steve Irwin and Gojira. Our ship Bob Barker is being prepared to oppose poaching operations in the territorial waters of Palau in accordance with an agreement we recently signed with the Republic of Palau to do so.
Siddanth: In the light of the recent tragedy in Japan, do you think that their Whaling fleet will be active this year? Or the Taiji slaughter for that matter?
Paul: The killing at Taiji continues (video). The tsunami did not impact Taiji much except to dash some of the captive dolphins to death on the rocks because they could not escape. Fortunately the tsunami destroyed 9 of the 14 dolphin harpoon boats in the Northern Iwate Prefecture. The government of Japan should have more important priorities now than subsidizing the whaling fleet but they are a stubborn bunch and they may try to return to the Southern Ocean so we must be prepared for them to do so.
Siddanth: Can you tell us about some significant challenges you have faced in your projects?
Paul: Our challenges have always been lack of resources to do what we needed to do. However every year we have gotten stronger and more effective and I am optimistic that we will continue to be more effective.
Siddanth: Which campaign has been your personal favorite till now? Why?
My favourite campaign was and always will be the 1979 hunt for the pirate whaler Sierra. I found her, disabled her and sank her and permanently ended her illegal career.
It was my first real dangerous campaign and it was completely successful. It was the campaign that became the foundation for all other campaigns that followed.
Siddanth: You have many quotable quotes to your credit, which one is your personal favorite?
“If the fish, the whales, the turtles and plankton are diminished and destroyed, the oceans will die and if the oceans die, humanity dies. We cannot live on this planet with a dead ocean.”
Siddanth: What would you like to share about the success of your campaigns?
Paul: Our success with Sea Shepherd lies in the fact that we are driven by passionate and courageous volunteers from around the world. I could not pay professionals to do what these men and women do for free. My volunteers both onboard our ships and onshore are the reason we have been and we will continue to be successful.
Siddanth: Anybody whom you would give credit for supporting (inspiring) you at the very outset?
My greatest inspiration was a whale named Mocha Dick (Moby Dick) who fought back against the whalers and was never defeated.
I was also inspired by Captain James I. Waddell of the Confederate raider Shenandoah. This man helped to destroy the Yankee whaling fleet in 1865 and he did so without losing a single crew member and without killing a single whaler. He was an inspiration for my aggressive non-violence approach. I was also inspired as a young man by Canadian author Farley Mowat who today is the International Chair for Sea Shepherd. Also by Archie Bellamy aka. Grey Owl for his efforts to protect beavers in Canada almost a century ago. Other inspirational people in my life have been Dian Fossey, David Suzuki, Margaret Mead, Marshall McLuhan, Robert Hunter, and Miyomoto Musashi. My daughter Lilliolani has also been an inspiration to me allowing me to see and to understand that what we do now we do for generations unborn.
Siddanth: One person whose work you deeply support?
Paul: It is difficult to name just one person but I can say that there are a growing number of passionate, committed and dedicated young activists who are making a difference every day all around this planet. I suppose if I must name one person, it would be Emily Hunter the daughter of the late Robert Hunter who has taken up the work that was regrettably ended with her father’s untimely death. She is an inspiration precisely because she had the courage and the passion to pick up her father’s fallen banner and she has the imagination to carry that banner forward into the future.
Siddanth: Any other interests/hobbies you have which you would like to share with us?
Paul: My passion is poetry.
Siddanth: Something you regret for not having done?
Paul: There are many challenges I would have like to have taken on but lack of resources prevented me from doing so.
However I have no regrets, I have done what I have been able to do with the resources available to me.
Siddanth: Any breakthroughs or achievements which you would like to share?
Paul: Between 1979 and the present day, our campaigns have saved the lives of thousands of whales, tens of thousands of dolphins, hundreds of thousands of seals and millions of fish. These achievements are what sustain me and this is what keeps me energized.
Siddanth: Are you optimistic about capability of the present YOUTH to solve the current ecological crisis?
Paul: It is the only thing that I am optimistic about.
It will be the passion, the imagination and the courage of the young people of the 21st century to find a path out of chaos to a world where we can co-exist in harmony with the natural world.
Siddanth: What would be the most significant practice a person can adopt in his daily life to further your cause?
To adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet and to live organically and in accordance with the three basic laws of ecology.
- The law of diversity: The strength of an eco-system is dependent upon the diversity of species within it.
- The law of interdependence: All species are interdependent with each other.
- The law of finite resources: There are limits to growth and limits to carrying capacity.
Siddanth: How can our readers support your cause and Sea Shepherd?
Paul: I tend not to ask people to help us. Look around in your environment, find causes that need to get taken care of and do what needs doing.
Siddanth: What is your message for the youngsters reading this?
Never let go of your idealism and to trust in your imagination and allow your passions to guide you towards the realization of your dreams. Imagination plus passion plus courage is the roadmap to success in any endeavor.
Siddanth: Thank you very much for these words. Many youth feel as strongly as you do, but get tempered down by adults to not seeing things so extreme, while in reality they are as bad as we feel it and require an as powerful response. Your unwavering fortitude is an important inspiration to all of us young people.
Paul: My pleasure, keep doing the good work.
Paul and Lamya Essemlali of Sea Shepherd Europe over the Faroe Grind.
Now is the time for Europeans to take the high ground, see truth and end remnants of obsolete 20th Century genocidal dirty criminal industries. Take on your greatest challenge. You’ll be surprised.
Europeans: Your #1 Ocean Challenge
Up to 50% of shark species are threatened with extinction.
Would you like protected rhinos, ellies, lions and jaguars in your cat and dog food? They shred protected sharks into it. Out of sight of the public, criminals and dirty industries care nothing about laws or lives.
Sharks are ocean ecosystems’ stewards of abundance. They replicate slowly. Great Whites take 30 years to mature and have a handful of babies. Where they disappear, the next bigger species takes over, replicates en masse and kills everything – resulting in dead zones on oceans.
One cannot click and repopulate the ocean with sharks, GMO sharks or shark drones! GET REAL.
On Earth, sharks are older than trees. Only for a few years, they encounter humans, and those are not on their menu. They don’t eat them … or no test-bited swimmer would ever make it to the beach. Claro?
Do you dislike that 100 million sharks get murdered every year to end up in a tasteless soup (China) or cat food?
50% of shark fins exported to China are caught by ships registered in Europe, mostly Spain, and Portugal.
The EU passed a resolution to reduce shark extinction… but permits finning when it happens ON LAND. Can one be this stupid? No, rather corrupt in service to a criminal dirty ecocidal industry. Also, ships can ask for exemptions. 100% of Portugese ships asked for it.
Truth is, when it comes to animals and plants on Earth, citizens in EU parliaments are no better than China’s dictatorship clique. Maybe worse, because they pretend to be allg ood and lie to the citizens who do not want shark finning.
Reminder: constitutions explain that the role of parliament is to turn the people’s wish into rules and regulations aka law. Government is an administration, no longer a mythical God-installed ruler to come up with own fantastic ideas and opinions.
For Europeans to no longer act as minions, democracy has instruments like the European Citizens Initiative for Europe wide official petitions, with necessary quota per population in x member states.
In February 2022, the Stop Finning initiative “to end the trade of fins in the EU including the import, export and transit of fins other than if naturally attached to the animal’s body” achieved required quotas … to have this tabled at the EU.
However, since, like any other multi-billion dollar dirty industry, the shipping fleets and governments claiming tradition, jobs etc.
… many of which in reality are outsourced in slave-like conditions to foreign workers, also with quasi rightless illegal immigrant status – like imany of the 300,000 illegal African immigrants working in Spain’s vegetable industry at 1/3 of national pay, living on plantations in abominable makeshift shelters built from trash, thereby betraying not only customers but eroding proper employment opportunities for Spain’s citizens:
In the worlds of Philip Alston, the UN Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, who visited Spain:
“26.1 percent of people in Spain, and 29.5 percent of children, were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2018, among the highest rates in Europe. More than 55 percent had some degree of difficulty making ends meet, and 5.4 percent experienced severe material deprivation. The unemployment rate of 13.78 percent is more than double the EU rate and the situation for youth is particularly distressing with a 30.51 percent unemployment rate among those below the age of 25. Employment figures obscure one of the EU’s highest rates of in-work poverty, with many people working in low-paid, part-time or temporary jobs, earning salaries woefully inadequate to cover basic needs.7 Inequality is also shockingly high, with indicators well above EU averages.”
Further on the vegetable producing regions:
“I visited areas I suspect many Spaniards would not recognise as a part of their country,” Alston said. “In Huelva, I met with workers living in a migrant settlement in conditions that rival the worst I have seen anywhere in the world. They are kilometres away from water, and live without electricity or adequate sanitation. Many have lived there for years and can afford to pay rent, but said no one will accept them as tenants.
I also visited areas I suspect many Spaniards would not recognize as a part of their country. A shantytown with far worse conditions than a refugee camp, without running water, electricity, or sanitation, where migrant workers have lived for years without any improvement in their situation. Closed-off neighborhoods of concentrated poverty where families raise children with a dearth of state services, health clinics, employment centers, security, paved roads or legal electricity. A segregated school in a poor neighborhood with a 100 percent Roma student body and a 75 percent rate of early leaving.
… which tells of the mindset and realities of human, ecological matters, industry, rules and their implementation in the reality that impacts lives and land
… which gets even more sensitive in “traditional” economies like those of a long-time sea-faring nation
… the industry will fiercely resist proper standards and given their extreme powers, the conventional law-making process cannot get trusted to turn the people’s wish into law.
Being an informed 20th Century voter waiting for someone to pay experts to fix a problem is no longer good enough.
Our next level participative 21st Century requires that citizens en masse upgrade to Able, Active Caring Citizens wielding humanity’s finest solutions in their regional environment.
Play an active role in ending this ecocidal industry that destroys our oceans and thereby the source of life and income for 1 billion people living on coasts, resulting in loss of inner and outer peace.
- Do a quick online search on shark finning and extinction.
- Follow Ocean Ramsey on instagram and facebook.
- Use her stories, films, YL teaching tools and Action Guides with groups, schools, at your HQ.
- Educate yourself on shark meat, strongly tainted with poisonous mercury, being hidden in supermarket products declared as flakes.
- Use, design, circulate digital and print posters calling out and shaming companies that destroy everything we love.
- Voice your conviction, take casual photos and videos of activities. Take measures to declare your city shark-fin free – means no shark fin soup, no pet food with sharks, no flakes and meat in supermarkets and, on the occasion, as citizens for their opinion, collecting signatures, involving mayor, councillors and people responsible for achieving the SDGs.
Reminder: Chloe Maxmin and Divest Harvard shamed oil and gas industries for destroying everything we love, calling for divestment from their dangerous extractive industries – growing their group from 3 to 70,000 members, sparking groups at 100s of university campuses, inspiring churches, cities and state funds to divest more than $7,000 billion € by today – and resulting in their university to divest, too.
Every single directly addressed supermarket giving it up has ripple effects on the mother market’s supply chain.
Here comes innovation:
Team up with fishing towns and professionals to upgrade to a new thriving life in beauty
- Research and activate Twin Town relations with cities in Spain and Portugal, their SDG responsibles and civil society, raise the topic in school dialogs, pay visits, take photos in public, declare solidarity in finding healthy new forms of economy like ocean states do with shark, whale and turtle watching … adapted to European setting. Creativity rules.
- Regional populations in traditional fishing regions need to take the biggest step. High seas shark finning is not their profit, anyway! Their good future relies on sustainable fishery, especially for local sovereign fishermen with own boats who are the backbone and embodiment of culture, tradition and economy (not low paid employees and mercenaries on industry ships)
- Team up to restore and create vibrant, beautiful delicacy, tourism, pride and proper income fit fishery
- How can proud fishermen include the young generation, both local, regional, national and international? There is extreme experience potential in their space of boats, animals, activities on and under water, on markets, in workshops. Kids love tech and the real stuff in an AI-empoverished life. Be wildly creative!
TELL US OF YOUR VISIONS, PLANS AND ACTIVITIES to get told as a column in YL Magazine and to win partners
We have a planet to save, and we have not come here to fail. #bemoreawesome
PAY A VIST
- Explore Sea Shepherd’s rich website www.seashepherd.org,
- Sigh up with their newsletter for updates on important campaigns.
- Love their vibe? Check for Sea Shepherd crews in your region.
- Include their videos and posters in HQs, and school presentations add grit, courage and fortitude to your actions!
Let your Inner Captain take over: Look for animal, plant, ecosystem and human related causes in your region. No compromise. No infantile blablah cute BS. Stand by your truth. Form a crew. Get things done properly. And tell us about it!
is a well renowned speaker. When you see him listed at an event, make sure to attend the session and feel the Captain in yourself rise.