Groups With Money NOW Have Their Chance to Save the Whales
Commentary by Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not a wealthy organization. We bring in less than one half of one percent of the annual contributions given to Greenpeace for example.
Sea Shepherd has stayed small because we have never developed a bureaucratic structure nor have we invested in large scale direct mail campaigns or spent millions of dollars on advertising and promotion.
We have grown slowly and remained small because we are an organization of volunteer activists who spend our funds in the field. It has been our choice to remain small and active and unencumbered by bureaucracy.
We understand that there is a need for large wealthy organizations although the real strength of the movement is in the diversity of organizations, individuals, and strategies.
Generally, I don't comment on organizations that I have not been involved with and thus restrict myself to criticisms only of Greenpeace, which I co-founded, and the Sierra Club of which I was recently a national director.
The fact is that Greenpeace spent a great deal of money sending two ships to the Southern Oceans in 2005 and 2006 for the purpose of protesting and filming the illegal slaughter of whales by Japan. They "bore witness" to the slaughter but were unable to prevent it because they were restricted by their non-interventionist tactics and pacifist philosophy.
That is their choice, of course, but they now have the money to save whales in an exceptionally non-violent and established manner and I am urging them to consider doing so.
Greenpeace condemned the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's actions in Antarctica as being overly aggressive and accused Sea Shepherd of being reckless by directly intervening to physically interfere with whaling, which of course is something that I originally learned to do as an original crewmember on the 1st and 2nd Greenpeace whale campaigns back in 1975 and 1976.
In fact I am also urging other groups with money who campaign against the slaughter of the whales, groups like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to do something that will make a significant difference.
These groups have the power and most importantly the resources to act on this initiative.
They need to underwrite the membership dues of pro-whale members of the International Whaling Commission. In other words, they need to do with poor pro-whale conservation nations what Japan is doing with poor nations they recruit to support their whaling industry.
The cost would be a fraction of the costs of the recent Greenpeace ship campaign to Antarctica. A few hundred thousand dollars could prevent the Japanese from seizing control of the IWC.
In the 2005 IWC convention, of the 66 IWC member nations, 29 voted YES to commercial whaling and 30 voted NO. Anti-whaling nations Costa Rica, Kenya, and Peru could not vote due to delinquent subscription payment, and four pro-whaling nations which had received bribes from Japan - Belize, Gambia, Mali, and Togo - were absent.
If all IWC member-nations show up to vote in 2006 (and we can count on Japan to twist the arms of Belize, Gambia, Mali, and Togo to be present to vote), it will be 33 YES and 33 NO, which would deprive Japan of the 51+% majority.
But Costa Rica, Kenya, and Peru may not show up because they cannot afford the membership dues. The solution is for groups like Greenpeace, IFAW, or HSUS to pay these membership dues and also to recruit other nations to join to support the whales.
The whales could lose the support of the majority of the member nations of the IWC in June 2006.
Greenpeace has the power to prevent this from happening. I will be the first to applaud them if they do.
[Thanks to Anthony Marr for assistance on this posting].