We Are the Ladies of the Night For the Oceans
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
We are the Ladies of the Night of the Marine Conservation Movement. Many people revile us, and many others may support us in the night, in secret, but do not wish to be seen with us in the daytime.
We are not respectable. We are not nice. We are not polite. We're down and dirty and we get wet in the most hostile of seas as we get into people's faces, pissing people off as we make enemies - oh yes, lots and lots of enemies.
Enemies! The more the merrier actually, for I believe that the number of enemies that one cultivates is in direct proportion to how effectively one is intervening against other people's interests and the interests of a great segment of the human species is directed towards the destruction of our planet and especially to the destruction of our oceans.
I read every critical blog, every media indictment, every gossipy lie, and every fabricated accusation with amusement. You see, we don't have to answer to any government, to any society, tradition, culture, or to any human being at all.
We answer only to our clients.
I have never been under any illusion that what we do is easy, or will lead to any quick or clear victory on behalf of our clients. Nor have I ever suffered the illusion that our ideas are welcome to most people. Unlike Saint Paul, we don't try to be all things to all people. Instead we remain true to our objective - unswerving and unwavering.
We save them one at a time, or pods, or schools, or herds, or colonies, or flocks at a time. Every whale saved from a harpoon is a victory, every shark or turtle cut from a longline is a victory, every albatross released from a net or a hook is a win for us. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society exists to save lives and to buy time and most importantly to intervene to uphold the international conservation laws that nations have neither the political nor economic will to uphold themselves.
We have also never expected to receive the praise or even the support of the media, of politicians, bureaucrats, or the majority of the public. We're not here to win the Chevron Environmental Award or even the Nobel Peace Prize, or to be rewarded with money, acclaim, or recognition.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does not exist to serve the interests of any group of people. We are not a people organization. This society was established for the sole purpose of defending marine wildlife species and marine habitats from poachers.
We represent whales, sharks, sea-turtles, sea-birds, dolphins, seals, fish, invertebrates, and plankton, and we do so within the context of a world dominated by a humanity intent upon the destruction of both marine species and marine habitats.
The very nature of the foundation of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society invites hostility, anger, violence and condemnation from anthropocentric society.
I myself have been called a racist, a communist, a fascist, a misanthrope, a pirate, a Nazi, a right winger, and a left winger, an anarchist, an egotist, a megalomaniac, and oh yes, let's not forget that favourite title bestowed upon us by our critics - an eco-terrorist.
One thing is for sure: we can't be all of these things to all people, and it matters not what some people call us. After all it is people causing the very problems we are trying to solve.
What is important is that we know who we are and what we are doing and what we are doing is carrying out a strategy of sailing close to the wind, as close as legally and morally possible, to intervene against illegal and immoral activities for the purpose of saving lives from the avarice, arrogance, and wilful ignorance of humanity.
You see, we met the enemy long ago and saw that it was us, and thus we are in a war to save ourselves from ourselves.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been in existence since August 1977 and during that entire period encompassing 32 years we have never injured a single person, sustained a single serious injury, or been convicted of a felony crime anywhere in the world.
Despite this, the stories are spread throughout the media that we are pirates, extremists, criminals, and even terrorists.
Why is this?
Because our small non-governmental organization is the only conservation organization in the world that has the guts to take on super-powers and organized crime like the Yakuza, the shark fin mafia, and corrupt politicians.
With little resources, we take on the vast war chests of those who profit from destroying our oceans and our planet. They have the money to assault us with PR lackeys who are paid to disseminate lies and they have power to turn the media and politicians against us.
When we took on the illegal slaughter of whales by the Makah Tribe in 1998 we did so in the face of criticism from other groups who felt that the Makah should be allowed to kill whales despite the law simply because they were Native American. We anticipated the criticism but we had no choice. To have discriminated in favour of the Makah would have been racist yet our refusal to discriminate was condemned as racist. It was a choice of being racist in practise or being condemned as racist and so we opted to be condemned rather than to hypocritically not oppose a whaling operation that was not legal under international conservation law.
In opposing the powerful whaling fleet illegally slaughtering whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, we knew that the vast economic and political resources of the Japanese government would be brought to bear upon us, and that we would have few friends in government. Thus we found our flags stripped from our ships, and raids from the Australian Federal Police.
Think about it. An illegal whaling fleet engaged in targeting and killing endangered whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary in violation of numerous international conservation treaties, whose ships are barred by Australian law from entering Australian ports? Yet they still have the power to call a raid on our ship in an Australian port to seize video tapes of their illegal activities. When do poachers get to order a police raid? The answer is when governments are the poachers.
What is it about the words "whale sanctuary" do these governments not understand. You don't slaughter endangered whales in a whale sanctuary and that is the reason that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is in the sanctuary in the first place - to stop whale poachers.
We have never been convicted of a felony because we intervene against felonies and the courtroom is the last place these poachers wish to go, for it is in the courtroom that we can present evidence that will indict them and not us.
Will our opposition succeed in silencing us? Perhaps they will. It really does not matter. We cannot be deterred by threats or force. We do what we do because it is the right thing to do, the just thing to do, and the only thing we can do.
I should have died in June 1975. A dying harpooned Sperm whale spared my life. I looked into his great solitary intelligent eye and what I saw there changed my entire perception of reality.
Despite his pain as he sank slowly beneath the blood stained surface of the sea, I saw understanding and he gave me a gift - to fear nothing and to see beyond the boundaries of limited human interests to the world of the others - those non-human cultures and nations that we ignore and slaughter.
That whale died from a Soviet harpoon and I asked myself then: why were the Soviets killing Sperm whales?
The answer was for Spermaceti oil for lubricating delicate machinery at high temperatures and one of the machines that they used Spermaceti oil was for lubricating the workings of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
As I sat there in a small inflatable boat with whales dying and screaming around me, watching the silhouette of a whaling ship against the setting sun, I realized that I was witnessing the slaughter of one of the most gentle and intelligent and socially complex creatures on Earth for the purpose of manufacturing a weapon designed for the mass destruction of human beings.
That is when it occurred to me like a frightening flash of insight that we were truly an insane species and the world had become one great lunatic asylum managed and controlled by the inmates.
I was done with humanity that day for reasons that I alone can understand, but replacing my love for humanity was a greater love for life, all life from the microscopic to the great whales. And yes, it included humans, but not humanity's arrogant cultures and philosophies, but rather for the species, Homo sapiens, whose path had gone astray only a few millennium ago to become the killer angels we are today, destroyers of the world, whose contempt for the sanctity of life is seemingly beyond measure.
I took the name of Shepherd of the Sea because I knew that what we must do is to defend and protect, and to do so within the context of both the natural laws of ecology and international conservation law, as well as within the discipline of respect for life.
Uphold the law; defend the innocent without harming life. That is the foundation of everything that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society stands for.
We are the only organization created from a vision inspired by the eye of a whale and we are unique in our position of being beyond the criticism of human society. What really irritates our enemies is that we do not give them cause to destroy us openly because we do not injure or kill and we oppose only criminals as defined by international conservation law. We cannot be bribed and we cannot be intimidated and thus we are untouchable.
Some may think we can be destroyed, as history has shown over and over again with the assassinations of so many who had the potential to change the world for good. I say this because I have received warning that there is an assassination order put out on myself.
And as history has also demonstrated, there is no stopping the forces intent upon killing new ideas, just as there is no stopping new ideas. What will be, will be - it is as simple as that.
Killing a person does not kill the idea. If anything it strengthens the idea and gives it life. All people are mortal but ideas can be immortal.
This threat could be nothing, although it comes from a credible source. I have been shot at a few times before, and I have been beaten, and I've lost count of the threats received.
Just in case, I want everyone to know that Sea Shepherd is now far greater than me. We are a movement and we are now active on every continent on this planet. We are active in Brazil and Ecuador, Australia, and New Zealand, South Africa, Senegal, Singapore, Dubai, and Japan, throughout Europe, in Canada, and the USA, and most importantly active in all the world's oceans.
Sea Shepherd will not die when I die - it will be an idea that will live and survive for as long as there is a need for it. All movements are like eco-systems - there is a niche to be filled and survival depends upon usefulness.
There are many Sea Shepherds now to carry on this idea and they can be found all around this wonderful planet of ours, and they are actively defending our oceans.
When there is no longer a use for Sea Shepherd then it will die naturally and as it should.
For myself, I have lived an amazing life thanks to the grace bestowed upon me by a dying whale. It has been an adventurous, fulfilling, and wonderful life, but more importantly I feel it has been a useful life and there are so many tens thousands of whales, seals, dolphins, birds, turtles, sharks, and other living things including elephants and wolves that have lived because I was able to intervene and when you think about it - that dying whale saved them all as he spared me.
Yes, I know, some people are saying, this guy is nuts. All I can say is at least I know that I am, that we all are, while so many, in fact the vast majority of humanity, believes they are sane as they suffer under a mass collective psychosis called anthropocentrism.
In wilderness is the preservation of the Earth, in diversity is the preservation of wilderness and in the preservation of the Earth and the Oceans is the salvation of humankind.