Hard Talk With Captain Paul Watson
In response to the numerous daily inquiries that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society receives, we have decided to ask Captain Paul Watson to respond to a few of the tougher questions. The questions were asked by Peter Brown, a film director who has worked with Sea Shepherd since 1982.
Interview With Captain Paul Watson
Peter Brown: The Canadian government has seized your ship the Farley Mowat. Is this a bad thing for Sea Shepherd?
Captain Paul Watson: No it's a good thing. The Canadian government took our ship in international waters with an armed boarding party. That was an illegal act of piracy and I am confident that Alex Cornelissen and Peter Hammarstedt will be exonerated. I mean when you really think about it, the entire affair is ludicrous. Our ship was seized and two men arrested for taking pictures of seals being killed.
We will win this case and when we do, the government will have to return our ship and they will have to return it in the condition they took it and we will sue them if they do not.
Peter Brown: So do you regard the seal campaign for this year as a success or a failure.
Captain Paul Watson: I regard it as a success beyond our expectations. We brought attention to Canada's seal slaughter internationally and especially in Europe and this will contribute tremendously towards encouraging European Parliamentarians to vote on a bill this year to ban seal products.
Peter Brown: You did not win many friends in Atlantic Canada. Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams called you a terrorist and said you are not welcome in his province. Loyola Hearn said that he was the new Wyatt Earp and you're not welcome in Dodge City anymore. Does that bother you?
Captain Paul Watson: It amuses me. I know that Canada is a nation that has produced some great Comedians like Buster Keaton, Jim Carey, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, for example and Danny and Loyola should be included in that list. Wyatt Earp really breaks me up - I love it.
What they don't understand is that we don't care what people in Atlantic Canada think of us. We are not playing to them. We are reaching out to inform Europeans because the Europeans have the power to end this slaughter. We discovered years ago that the only tactic that will work is to destroy the market for the grisly products of the seal trade.
Danny Williams should either arrest me or shut up. Calling me a terrorist may be cute but it has no foundation in reality. I've never injured anyone, been convicted of a crime, nor am I under investigation for any crime. And if I want to go to Newfoundland I will - I am a Canadian citizen and Danny Williams has no right to restrict my access to a province that is a part of my country. He is arrogant in the extreme if he thinks he can do so.
Peter Brown: You seem to have had a good crew for the seal campaign?
Captain Paul Watson: This was one of the best crews we have ever had on a campaign. They had the right combination of courage, patience and good judgment and there were no whiners. All nineteen of the Farley Mowat's crew were first rate. Alex Cornelissen as Captain and Peter Hammarstedt as First Officer handled the ship with great skill and calmness. No one panicked or over-reacted when the boarding party assaulted the ship. Shannon Mann as communications officer stayed at her post and kept me informed until her power was cut. David Jonas did a terrific job of organizing things in Sydney. Willie Houtman as Chief Engineer did an incredible job. They all were incredible. Not a one of them buckled under interrogation by the government agents. It was a great crew.
Peter Brown: Loyola Hearn said you fled from the ship when things got hot and left Alex to take the heat. How do you respond to that?
Captain Paul Watson: I was never on the crew and for good reason. I am legally barred from approaching the seal slaughter by a court order. If I had been on the ship that would have given the government authority to board even in international waters to arrest a Canadian citizen for contempt of a court order. I was not about to hand Loyola Hearn that opportunity. I did go to the ship when it was in St. Pierre et Miquelon but I had left before the fishermen attacked the ship. It was Captain Cornelissen's ship and it was his crew and it is insulting to him to say I left him to take the heat. It was his duty to take the heat and he took it professionally and with great courage and conviction.
Peter Brown: But isn't this the first time that Sea Shepherd has been in a confrontation without you as Captain?
Captain Paul Watson: Yes it was. In all campaigns since we began over three decades ago, I have been in command during every confrontation. This was the first time that I was not and I'm proud of the fact that Alex and Peter and the crew handled themselves so well. I would trust both those men to lead any future campaigns that involve confrontations. After all I can't remain at the helm forever.
Peter Brown: Loyola Hearn said that Sea Shepherd is a bunch of money sucking manipulators and that you were managing the campaign from a posh hotel room in New York City and dining on steak and lobster. How do you respond to that?
Captain Paul Watson: This is the man who also says the seal slaughter is humane and who claims he boarded the Farley Mowat inside Canadian waters. The man is a liar. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not a wealthy organization. We have spent more on the seal campaign than we brought in. It cost us about $150,000 and we only raised $50,000 so far. I wish we had the millions that Hearn claims we bring in. Our books are open if he would bother to check.
I was in New York City meeting with Animal Planet and promoting the film Sharkwater. But as a vegetarian I was not dining on steak and lobster and I was sleeping on a friend's couch in Brooklyn.
But I learned years ago to just ignore the spin of politicians. The truth always does surface eventually.
Peter Brown: The Canadian government is claiming that the Farley Mowat is an unsafe ship and should not have been in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the ice and that the crew were at risk.
Captain Paul Watson: The Farley Mowat is a steel hulled ice class vessel that has years of experience in heavy ice conditions both in the Eastern Canadian ice fields and in Antarctica. The sealing vessels on the other hand are fragile wooden and aluminum boats and every year many are crushed or sunk during the seal slaughter. It appears to me that Mr. Hearn should be more worried about the safety of the sealing boats than about our experienced vessel.
The fact is that the Farley Mowat had to pass a safety test for Dutch registry in April 2007 and then it had to pass a safety inspection to transit the Panama Canal in October 2007. There were no safety violations on the Farley Mowat.
Peter Brown: The government and the sealers say that seal defenders are misleading the public by saying that baby seals are being killed and that they only kill adults now. Is this true?
Captain Paul Watson: It is the government and the sealers who are misleading the public. 90% of the seals killed are between two and six weeks old - in other words they are baby seals. Canada has chosen to refer to seals over two weeks old, seals that no longer have white coats as adults when in fact they are helpless on the ice and cannot escape their killers. The images we are showing are the images of the seals as they are being killed now. I have to admit that it is difficult to obtain these images because documenting the killing of seals is a crime in Canada. No one is saying that sealers are killing whitecoats but they are killing baby seals.
Peter Brown: Critics are saying that you have little compassion for the sealers who are just trying to feed their families. One sealer appears on You Tube asking for compassion. What is your response to this?
Captain Paul Watson: A sealer asking for compassion. That's priceless. No one starves in Canada. The seal slaughter is already a glorified welfare program costing the taxpayers more money to support than it brings in. My answer to this is to pay the sealers not to kill seals just as we pay farmers in the prairies to not grow wheat. If Canada can pay farmers to not grow grain in a starving world then surely they should pay sealers to not kill seals for the fashion industry. If Canada paid the sealers to not kill seals, the Canadian taxpayers would save money and the sealer could feed his family, although I seriously doubt that the meager revenues the slaughter brings in makes much of a difference anyhow.
Peter Brown: What is your opinion of Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn?
Captain Paul Watson: He is just another stumbling, bumbling Fisheries Minister in a long chain of bumbling stumbling Fisheries Ministers rambling on about things they know nothing about. I've fought them all from Romeo LeBlance to Loyola Hearn. Most of them have been from Newfoundland like Brian Tobin and John Crosbie, and all of them have presided over the diminishment of the Fisheries because none of them ever seemed to grasp the ecological realities they were dealing with. Their sole concern was giving into the demands of the fishermen and the industries and they fielded a team of biostitutes to fabricate the science to justify the policies that led to the destruction of the Fisheries on both coasts.
Loyola Hearn is actually one of the more ignorant of the long line of fish czars we have had to deal with. But is easily manipulated and easily provoked.
We need to understand that he is a member of a government that contains Ministers who actually believe that dinosaurs went extinct because they could not fit on Noah's ark.
Loyola Hearn served our cause well this year thanks to his foot and mouth affliction. It would be nice to see an intelligent man or woman managing Fisheries but lacking that, it's good for a laugh or two to have hysterical Hearn harping hopelessly on about evil seal defenders and saintly seal clubbers. The-club-a seal-for-Jesus crowd is going to push their bloody and expensive agenda into the toilet bowel of ridiculous government programs as the rest of the world shakes its head and wonders just what it is in Ottawa that transforms common school teachers like Hearn into political right wing raving nut bars.