Commentary by Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
In response to our suggestion that Greenpeace and other organizations use their wealth to help pro-whale nations like Japan is doing to encourage nations to vote for whaling, Greenpeace "Supporter Services" Karen Gallagher sent the following response (below).
Her response was sent to a Sea Shepherd supporter. Greenpeace has refused to respond to Sea Shepherd's suggestion directly. Greenpeace is now refusing to acknowledge the existence of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and now have a policy to refuse to acknowledge any correspondence or communication from Sea Shepherd.
Once again, Captain Paul Watson has officially requested that Greenpeace return to Antarctica in 2006-2007 and work with Sea Shepherd to oppose illegal whaling. Months later and still not an acknowledgement of the invitation.
Sea Shepherd will be going it alone against the whalers this year.
Below Captain Paul Watson has inserted his comments on the Greenpeace response.
[The original letter from the supporter to Greenpeace follows below.]
Dear (Name Withheld),
Thanks for your suggestion. We wish we could do it and, as you say, at first glance it appears to be the sort of thing our members would want. But sadly we can't do it and there are good reasons why we can't.
When nations vote in international bodies, like the IWC, they are representing their citizens, not other countries or NGO groups. If we paid the dues for a country like Kenya, then everyone would point at them and say 'you are representing Greenpeace, not Kenya, at the IWC. You have been bought.' And Kenya would be unable to defend itself.
Captain Paul Watson: Ironically, the reason that Japan began buying votes was because Greenpeace initiated it back in the 70's. Greenpeace supporters paid for the membership dues of the Bahamas, the Seychelles, etc.
This is a cop-out by Greenpeace because nations like Kenya, Costa Rica, etc., do support the whales but cannot afford the 300,000 pounds on average annual membership dues. Nations like Tuvalu with a population of 8,000 support whaling because Japan pays their membership dues.
These nations are unable to vote because they cannot afford the dues, not because their people are pro-whaling. Greenpeace, with a worldwide budget in excess of 300 million U.S. dollars, can easily pay the membership fees if they choose to do so. They have not only chosen not to do so, they have even announced they will not be returning to the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary to protest whaling in the 2006-2007 season.
We all know that Japan buys votes at the IWC (an article from a St. Kitts and Nevis newspaper which came to our attention last weeks says: "...we are grateful to Japan who is donating millions to many Caribbean islands .. Sure they want something in return, the pro whaling vote ...) but countries bought by Japan go to great lengths to hide the fact they are bought. They react with anger and outrage to suggestions they are bought and even with quotes like the one above available, no country in the IWC will stand up and say these countries are bought. Australia will not, neither will New Zealand, US or UK.
Captain Watson: The fact is that the votes are bought and Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have acknowledged this. Japan is complaining that Israel has joined to vote for the whales but the big difference is that Israel is paying their own dues - they are not a welfare puppet government to anyone like the pro-whaling Caribbean and Pacific Island states, now being economically-colonized by Japan.
The strongest thing the anti whaling countries could do is stand up and say that the IWC is being bought by Japan. If you feel like writing another letter, please write to the Australian government telling them that they need to publicly challenge Japan on its outrageous vote buying which has even included buying up the votes of Naura and Tuvalu. Showing the world that the IWC is being taken over by the whalers would be the first step to stopping it.
Captain Watson: Greenpeace must really think we are all naive. The world is well aware that Japan is bribing these countries and taking over the IWC. This is no different than Britain and France watching as Hitler took over Czechoslovakia and did nothing. The corruption is certainly talked about at the IWC meetings. In fact it is one of the major controversies at any IWC meeting. The solution is to recruit votes for the whales as Japan recruits votes for the whalers. There are anti-whaling nations that would vote willingly for the whales if they could afford to do so. This is a sharp contrast to the so called pro-whaling nations that don't care for the whales or the whalers but vote for the money. It's a case of helping whale-loving nations to help the whales and thus much different than the whorish nations that do it just for money.
If we were to pay for anti whaling countries to attend, we would be legitimizing vote buying. How could anyone fairly criticize Japan for buying votes when the NGOs were seen to be doing the same thing?
Captain Watson: Twenty years of criticizing Japan buying votes has accomplished nothing. Buying votes has been legitimized by the simple fact that Japan gets away with is. The solution is to buy votes for the whales. Greenpeace seems to want people to believe that the IWC is a democracy. It is not. It does not represent all the nations of the world, only those who pay the money to join and there is a vested interest by whalers to get these votes and so there should be a vested interest by whale defenders to get votes also. Greenpeace supported helping poorer nations help the whales in the 70's but now when it is far wealthier today it is reluctant to spend the money. For every dollar Greenpeace brings in to help the whales they spent less than 10% on whale campaigns.
The approach we have taken to this is to work with NGOs in some of the countries bought by Japan. We have sent back details of their votes for Japan's interests as each vote was taken and the NGOs have campaigned in their nations press, asking why their government is voting to kill whales. It became clear to the people of Panama that their government was not representing them at the IWC. As a result of this work Panama changed from voting 100% with Japan 3 years ago to voting 100% with the conservation side at the last IWC.
Captain Watson: Greenpeace seems to be taking credit for the fact that Panama signed onto the Buenos Aires Agreement supporting the whales. Panama signed on at the request of other Latin American nations and not because of lobbying by Greenpeace. A change in government can mean a change in policy. Panama rejected Japanese bribes whereas St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and other Caribbean nations openly admit they are being bribed.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society would pay these dues for pro-whale nations if we had the money to do so. I know that as a co-founder of Greenpeace we (Greenpeace) supported the strategy of subsidizing whale conservation nations in the 70's and I fail to see what is wrong with this. It appears that Greenpeace is spending vast sums of money on promotion and advertising, membership recruitment, and administration but is reluctant to spend money on actually supporting strategies to end illegal commercial whaling. Last year, they spent money to pose for pictures with whales being killed in the background. They did not stop a single harpoon from killing a whale despite having the ship and the technology to keep up with and block them. They even opposed and obstructed Sea Shepherd's efforts to physically intervene against the whalers.
Greenpeace is now rejecting the suggestion of helping to pay the membership dues of pro-whale nations and instead will channel their funding into direct mail, advertisements, and public relations campaigns. And of course, they will have a delegation at next month's meeting of the IWC in the pro-whaling nation of St. Kitts where they will promote themselves as the "only organization confronting the whalers," a lie they spread last year even as the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat was chasing the Japanese whaling fleet across the waters of the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.
If the whales lose the votes at the IWC meeting in June, it will because groups like Greenpeace refused to put their money towards countering the obviously effective strategy of the Japanese to buy the IWC votes.
Let's put this into perspective: To pay for the dues of Peru, Costa Rica, and Kenya for example would cost about 1 million dollars. Greenpeace spends over 50 million dollars annually on direct mail programs asking people for money to protect whales and brings in considerably more.
Greenpeace may say it was the "morally and politically correct thing to do," but the whales will die in increasing numbers as a result.
These big mean corporate green machines exploit people's concerns as feel good organizations, the environmental movement's answer to Wal-Mart, a one stop pay your money and feel good that you are contributing to the "solution" group.
The whales need votes and they need action - not ocean posing.
Greenpeace International, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Original Letter to Greenpeace
The above response from Karen Gallagher completely ignores the mention of Greenpeace not returning to Antarctica and gives no reason why Greenpeace has quit this campaign.
I understand Greenpeace will not be present at the end of this year in Antarctica to protest against Japanese whaling. That is very disappointing.
Instead I have another suggestion. If Greenpeace could underwrite the membership dues of the poor anti-whaling members of the IWC that might make all the difference to the vote which looks like it will be very close or Japan may be successful in overturning the moratorium on commercial whaling. Some countries (such as Peru, Costa Rica, and Kenya) just don't have the funds to pay their dues. If Greenpeace could help them out it would be wonderful and just what your members would want!
The cost of doing this would not be close to the cost of your recent campaign to Antarctica. A few hundred thousand dollars could prevent Japan 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. So if you really care about whales and not amassing memberships from whale lovers this is an easy and affordable thing to do.
Let me know your ideas.