Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
The response from Greenpeace to my request to work with them on stopping the illegal activities of the Japanese whaling fleet was absolutely no response at all. Not an e-mail, a phone call, a letter or even a cheap postcard.
One of our supporters did receive the following response:
Dear (Name withheld),
Thank you for your e-mail and your interest in Greenpeace!
Non violence is non negotiable. It is the cornerstone of Greenpeace's support and success for the last 37 years.
Sea Shepherd has consistently threatened to ram ships at sea in the harshest ocean in the world - the Southern Ocean. Sea Shepherd has also targeted the crew of whaling fleets with missiles, including glass bottles filled with butyric acid. Neither act can be dismissed as just property damage. Both are a threat to human life and as such are completely unacceptable to Greenpeace.
Greenpeace will continue to act to defend the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, but will never attack or endanger the whalers.
Thanks again for your support and we look forward to hearing from you in the future!
For a Green and Peaceful Future,
Responding to Mr. Jannelli
So despite the fact that in 31 years Sea Shepherd has never caused a single injury to a single person nor have we sustained any serious injuries, and despite the fact that His Holiness the Dalai Lama supports Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace continues to push their myth that Sea Shepherd is a violent organization.
Paul Watson and Roberta Hunter on the
Greenpeace 1976 anti-whaling campaign
in front of a soviet whaling ship
Sea Shepherd has never rammed any Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean although we have been rammed by the Japanese and they have accused us of ramming them which by the way is exactly what has happened with Greenpeace. They also have been involved with collisions with Japanese whalers for which Japan has accused them of being responsible for the ramming.
According to the Japanese whalers Greenpeace is a violent organization. Yet Greenpeace falsely a accuses Sea Shepherd of throwing missiles and of being violent. Why? Because we threw some rotten butter onto the decks of a whale killing ship?
I don't know who you are Sebastian Jannelli but you have a job with Greenpeace today because Bob Hunter, myself and a few others created the organization you work for. And now you sit in judgment of the very people who risked their lives for the whales as volunteers before you were even born.
One of my contacts in Greenpeace was a little more honest with me. He said that Sea Shepherd challenges one of the biggest fund-raising schemes that Greenpeace has. If we end Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean it will cost Greenpeace an estimated $40 million dollars in donations they receive from their annual appeals to save the whales.
I do find it incredible that an organization that stocks its ships with the corpses of cows, pigs, chickens, ducks (including forced fed goose fois gras), and fish has the audacity to accuse a 100% vegan ship and crew of being violent.
But unfortunately the refusal of Greenpeace to cooperate with Sea Shepherd is a loss for the whales - not for Sea Shepherd.
We will however continue to provide Greenpeace with the coordinates of the Japanese fleet when we have them although last year they actually refused to accept the coordinates from us.
We wish them luck with their filming of the killing of the whales and their banner hanging. Good visuals but not effective in silencing the harpoons.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a non-violent organization but we don't have much use for this bearing witness philosophy that Greenpeace has adopted since I left the organization in 1977.
You don't bear witness to murder and rape and do nothing to stop it. You don't watch a child being sexually molested and you do nothing. You don't watch a person stomp on a kitten or kick a dog and do nothing but take pictures, you don't hang banners before a rapist as he attacks a woman and you don't bear witness to murder and do nothing. This is what Greenpeace is advocating with the killing of whales - that we watch, we take photos, we hang banners and we don't intervene.
Sea Shepherd finds this to be a cowardly and morally unacceptable position to take and as a co-founder of Greenpeace I can attest that this philosophy was not a guiding principle when we first put to sea in a Greenpeace ship in October 1971 and it was not a tenet of the Foundation even when I left in 1977.
This bearing witness crap is a revisionist excuse to justify what in my opinion is an annual display of cowardice.
This last season we saved some 500 whales from a horrific and agonizing death. I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty impressive display of non-violence. Preventing death and suffering is the ultimate expression of non-violence. It beats hanging a banner in my opinion.
With what Greenpeace spends on advertising to save whales every year, Sea Shepherd could shut down every whaling activity in the world - as simple as that. Our effectiveness has been restrained only by our lack of resources.
Which brings up the question of why Sea Shepherd is still so relatively small after three decades whereas Greenpeace is a $300 million dollar mega eco-corporation?
The answer is simple. I have consistently refused to invest large sums of donated money into raising more money. When someone donates a dollar to funding a campaign to protect whales then that is where the money should go. It should not go into soliciting more money from other people. I personally find this to be morally repugnant.
And it is this concentration on raising more funds from already donated funds that leads to the build up of an organization of bureaucrats who take their direction from the fund raisers and the lawyers who caution that effective fund raising requires not upsetting as many people as possible - the same reason that politicians say very little on the principle of the less you say the fewer people you will offend.
Sea Shepherd on the other hand represents our clients - the whales and the other species that live in the oceans and we are not concerned with offending people who do not want to hear the truth about what we are doing to life in the seas.
We believe that the best defense of the oceans is a strong offense and we put to sea with the express intention of offending our opposition and if we offend some people along the way who think we are overly action oriented than to hell with them also. We put to sea to defend and offend - we put to sea to save lives and protect habitat.
And there is one basic principle that underlies all of our actions and that is a resolute respect for life and that is the reason we have never caused an injury to any person in our entire history and that is a reason our ships are vegan vessels.
So what is the real reason Greenpeace? And don't give us this bogus argument that we are violent. We have never been convicted of a single felony - Greenpeacers have. We have never had any of our crew killed or seriously injured, Greenpeace has. We don't kill mammals, birds and fish to feed our crew, Greenpeace does - so where is the evidence that Sea Shepherd is more violent than Greenpeace?
It's time to stop the spin and to stop the lies and it is time to respect your elders, those of us in Sea Shepherd who created Greenpeace in the first place. Not one of them is with you today. Even the children of the Greenpeace founders sail with Sea Shepherd today.
Are Greenpeacers such judges of non-violence that they contradict the Dalai Lama who would not support Sea Shepherd if we were violent as Greenpeace insists we are. Do you condemn our illustrious Advisory Board of scientists, lawyers, artists, and celebrities for supporting Sea Shepherd? Is Greenpeace accusing the thousands of Sea Shepherd members of being violent people?
Are you aware that of the first crew that sailed to Amchitka to oppose the Bomb for Greenpeace, beside myself, were Robert Hunter, Rod Marining, Lyle Thurston, and John Cormack all of whom have sailed with Sea Shepherd. Are you accusing these men, the people who created Greenpeace of advocating violence by sailing with me?
Are you aware that from the first Greenpeace whale and seal campaigns that besides myself that Robert Hunter, Rod Marining, John Cormack, Al Hewitt, David Garrick, Roberta Hunter, Matt Herron, Ron Precious, Al Johnson, George Korotva, Ross Thornwood, Myron MacDonald, and so many more have sailed with and supported Sea Shepherd?
All of our critics in Greenpeace today were not with me when we sailed into the jaws of that nuclear test in Amchitka. None of you were with us when we tackled the Soviet whalers in the Pacific in 1975 and 1976. None of you were on the ice with me when we defended the seals in 1976 and 1977. Yet you Sebastian Jannelli boldly suggest that you and not us may judge what we were when we created Greenpeace.
When I disabled the pirate whaler Sierra and ended her career in 1979, Greenpeace supported my tactics in the Greenpeace newsletter and I wrote the cover story of the campaign. Greenpeace supported my tactics in 1979 so why not now?
Where is there a drop of blood, human or animal that Greenpeace can point to that has been shed by Sea Shepherd?
And therefore I repeat, where is this evidence of the "violence" of Sea Shepherd?
Greenpeace has been spewing out this nonsense for so long about Sea Shepherd that many Greenpeacers have actually come to believe it themselves?
When Sea Shepherd was in the Faeroe Island protecting whales, did it not occur to anyone in Greenpeace that your accusations that Sea Shepherd was an "eco-terrorist" organization nearly got some of our crew killed because the Faeroese police had been convinced by Greenpeace that we were violent. Is endangering our lives through the spreading of falsehoods, a non-violent policy of Greenpeace?
There is no use in continuing to work towards cooperation I suppose. Greenpeace has forgotten the meaning of the word peace and has chosen to concentrate on the green as in money and getting as much of it into the Greenpeace coffers as possible.
Last year Greenpeace bought all the online ad space in all the large Australian and New Zealand newspapers in addition to television commercials to milk twenty times the revenues from the public than was actually spent on any of the campaigns to protect the whales. You spent a few weeks taking some pictures and then fled the scene, with your token annual appearance done for another year.
I have spent over forty years of my life in the struggle to protect and defend whales and I can say with all honesty that Greenpeace is a part of the problem and not the solution because if you really wanted to end this horrific annual slaughter than you would be committing 100% of the funds you raise from whaling to ending whaling and you would not hesitate to cooperate with Sea Shepherd.
Our two organizations had the potential to completely shut down Japanese whaling operations this coming year and if we had your resources we would do it ourselves.
But we will return and we will do what we can with the resources we have and yes we will send you the coordinates and we hope you will show up. Even your cameras and your banners are better than nothing at all - so we welcome you.
But remember this - I don't criticize Greenpeace because I want to destroy the organization. I am critical because I helped create your movement - I am one of your founding fathers whether you like it or not.
Sea Shepherd may not have the fancy offices and the war chest of Greenpeace because I am afraid if we did we would lose our greatest strength and that is the passionate commitment of our volunteers who year after year place their lives on the line to defend life in the sea and who do so in a responsible manner, without causing injury and without committing crimes.
I don't know who you are Sebastian Jannelli but I can say this - if you wish to serve this planet and if you wish to make a difference than start to think for yourself and stop parroting the ridiculous propaganda you hear about us. Pick up a copy of Isaac Asimov's Foundation and it will help you to understand just what the relationship between Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace is. We are the 2nd Foundation and we are doing what the 2nd Foundation is supposed to do - which is not to destroy Greenpeace but to kick its ass to get it back to the basics, to keep it on the track and to keep it focused on what is really important.
And remember this - when we save the life of a whale that is all the reward we need and all the criticisms and accusations in the world cannot take the satisfaction of that noble deed away from us. It is these actions and results that keep us motivated and as long as we do not cause injury than we will continue with our strategies and tactics because Sebastian, the truth of the matter is that we have never found a single whale that disagrees with us and after all they are our clients - not Greenpeace and not humanity.
We will NOT watch them die. We will NOT film their deaths and we will NOT be meek and gentle with their barbaric butchers and we will NOT indulge in the cowardly luxury of "bearing witness."
So Sebastian if you are ever serious about saving whales - give us a call. We stand ever ready to cooperate and if you need our help with coordinates or logistics you've got it even if the favor is not returned. Capish!