Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Animal Planet's hit television series Whale Wars also plays a prominent role in the new film The Cove. Sea Shepherd first exposed the horrendous dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan in 2003 with images seen around the world. Captain Watson answered questions from TakePart.com about the film, the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, and what moviegoers can do to take action.
Captain Watson and other Sea Shepherd staff and supporters attended a special screening of The Cove on July 31st in Lost Angeles with guests including Isabel Lucas, Dave Rastovich, and Q'orianka Kilcher.
TAKEPART: What action can moviegoers take after they've seen The Cove? What are some simple, and not-so-simple steps people can take to try to change the status quo?
CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON: The Cove points out where the problems are. Marine aquariums like Sea World must stop supporting the brutal and deadly dolphin drives. People need to boycott seaquariums that exploit marine mammals for amusement. We need to pressure and shame Japan into ending this atrocity.
TP: What would you say to people who walk away from the film angry with Japan or the Japanese people?
PW: The government of Japan endorses this slaughter and the people are responsible for their government, so ultimately the Japanese people are, in fact, to blame. We need not hate them for this but we should firmly make it understood that this slaughter has no place in the civilized world, and that the fishermen of Taiji are shaming all the people of Japan.
TP: Has the operation depicted in the movie changed anything on the ground in Taiji?
PW: It is too early to tell but I am confident that the Japanese government is feeling the pressure.
TP: Why can't international bodies like the International Whaling Commission take firmer steps to protect dolphins and whales? Isn't that why they were created?
PW: The IWC is a toothless, useless organization that can't even protect the great whales. I would not expect any solutions from the bureaucrats at the IWC. Change comes from the passion of people and the IWC is an organization without passion or compassion.
TP: Do you have any indication of how The Cove and news of its release in the U.S. has been received in Japan?
PW: In Taiji, I would say it has been received with shock and awe. They are embarrassed at being infiltrated, and feel shamed for being exposed.
TP: What's next for you and the Sea Shepherd Crew?
PW: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society likes to initiate these controversies, and with Taiji we began the ball rolling in 2003 with our initial videos and photos and our intervention in releasing trapped dolphins from the nets. I am happy that Ric O'Barry, Dave Rastovich, Surfers for Cetaceans, OPS, Participant and others have the ball and they are running it down the court towards a victory on behalf of the dolphins.
(from left) Charles Hambleton, Isabel Lucas, Captain Watson,
Deborah Bassett, Guest, Dave Rastovich
Captain Watson and Q'orianka Kilcher
Captain Watson and Board Member Susan Weingartner
All photos credit Elizabeth Healey