Greenpeace Attempts to Make Captain Paul Watson "Disappear"

Greenpeace Changes It's History to Deny Captain Paul Watson as Co-Founder

Greenpeace has become very angry with Sea Shepherd and Captain Paul Watson because of Sea Shepherd interventions against Japanese whaling and criticisms of Greenpeace ineffectiveness. In fact Greenpeace have become so angry that they have now posted on their website that Paul Watson was not a co-founder of Greenpeace. They now classify him as "an early member"

Greenpeace co-founders Paul Watson and
Robert Hunter blockade the sealing ship,
Arctic Endeavor,
Labrador 1976

They have not yet pulled all references. The U.S. website has changed the image to state "activist Paul Watson" but the URL still shows founder at: Greenpeace USA

On this page, they show a picture with the caption of "Greenpeace founder Bob Hunter and activist Paul Watson protect a seal during Canada's hunt." We suspect that now that we have pointed this out, this reference will soon disappear also.

They've done this a few times before. Back in 1997 when Captain Watson was arrested in the Netherlands at the request of Norway, Greenpeace Europe supported Norwegian demands for him to be extradited to Norway and imprisoned for sinking the whaling vessel Nybraena. They publicly stated at that time that Paul Watson was not a co-founder of Greenpeace.

Another Greenpeace co-founder and the first President of Greenpeace Robert Hunter flew to Amsterdam to hold a press conference to correct Greenpeace and to say that Captain Paul Watson in fact was one of the original Greenpeace founders.

The text below is from the Greenpeace web site. We asked Captain Watson to respond to these "facts":

Paul Watson and Greenpeace: Some Facts

Paul Watson is the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and an early member of Greenpeace. Over the last few years, Paul has become extremely critical of Greenpeace in the press and at his website. The information below is provided as a service to our supporters to get a few facts out on the table about Paul's history with Greenpeace and the nature of our disagreements.

Paul Watson became active with Greenpeace in 1971 as a member of our second expedition against nuclear weapons testing in Amchitka, and went on to participate in actions against whaling and the killing of harp seals.  He was an influential early member but not, as he sometimes claims, a founder.

Captain Paul Watson: I first became involved in October 1969 when a small group demonstrating against nuclear testing under Alaska's Amchitka Island were protesting at the U.S. and Canadian border. This was the very first gathering of the people who were to form Greenpeace. I was a founding member of the Don't Make a Wave Committee in 1970 and participated as a crew-member on the first Greenpeace campaign to oppose nuclear testing at Amchitka. Greenpeace states that it was the second expedition but both the Greenpeace and the Greenpeace Too were part of the same expedition. I was on the Greenpeace Too, the ship that was in the Aleutians when the bomb went off. The first ship had already returned. When Greenpeace was officially registered as the Greenpeace Foundation in 1972, I was one of the signatory founding directors. I was also one of the eight people who established Greenpeace International in 1979. In 1972, Robert Hunter's membership number was # 000 Roberta Hunter's membership was #001 and mine was  #007. I've still got the card. I was in fact the youngest founding member of Greenpeace. I was 18 when I attended the demonstration at the border in 1969 and 20 when we sailed to oppose the bomb in 1971. I do find it amusing that some of the Greenpeacers today who accuse me of not being a founder of the organization were not even born at the time.

I like how they go on to say that I participated in the actions against whaling and the killing of harp seals when in fact Robert Hunter, Paul Spong and I initiated the anti-whaling campaign and I initiated the anti-sealing campaign along with David Garrick. I was first officer on the first and 2nd Greenpeace campaigns to protect whales in 1975 and 1976 and I was the expedition leader for the seal campaigns of 1976 and 1977.

He was expelled from the leadership of Greenpeace in 1977 by a vote of 11 to one (only Watson himself voted against it).

Captain Paul Watson: I was voted off the Board of Directors yes, but not expelled from Greenpeace the organization. I left Greenpeace voluntarily to establish the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I left on rather good terms because in 1979 I was one of the 8 signatories to establish Greenpeace International and that is an official document.

I was voted off the Board of Directors two weeks after Patrick Moore replaced Robert Hunter as President. Moore had threatened to have me forced out of Greenpeace many times before that. He used the excuse that I had pulled a sealer's club from a sealer's hand and threw it in the water. "We can't condone property destruction and theft," he said. Property? It was a seal club and my action had saved a seal pup's life which I considered of greater moral value than a club. Anyhow, Moore today is a public relations hack for the nuclear, logging, salmon farming and bio-chemical industries and I am still saving whales and seals.

Bob Hunter (one of Greenpeace's early leaders, after whom a Sea Shepherd vessel was named) described the event in his book, the Greenpeace Chronicles:

'No one doubted his [Watson's] courage for a moment. He was a great warrior brother. Yet in terms of the Greenpeace gestalt, he seemed possessed by too powerful a drive, too unrelenting a desire to push himself front and centre, shouldering everyone else aside... He had consistently gone around to other offices, acting out the role of mutineer. Everywhere he went, he created divisiveness... We all felt we'd got trapped in a web no one wanted to see develop, yet now that it had, there was nothing to do but bring down the axe, even if it meant bringing it down on the neck of our brother."

Captain Paul Watson: Robert Hunter did not write this in a book entitled Greenpeace Chronicles. He wrote it in a book entitled Warriors of the Rainbow. It is interesting that later, Robert Hunter told me that I was right in going the direction that I did and he became a Sea Shepherd activist and crewmember sailing with us on numerous occasions between 1988 and 2001. Bob and Bobbi Hunter even lent me funds to help purchase the first Sea Shepherd vessel. Bob later told me and wrote in his books that it was a positive thing that I had left Greenpeace to pursue a different path. Greenpeace never names a ship after Robert Hunter but Sea Shepherd did.

Greenpeace describes Robert Hunter as one of Greenpeace's  "early leaders". This certainly diminishes Bob Hunter's incredible contribution to Greenpeace. The fact is that Robert Hunter is "the" founding father of Greenpeace. If not for Robert Hunter, Greenpeace would have expired as an organization in 1974. It was Hunter's vision, drive, and determination that placed Greenpeace in the position to become a worldwide force to defend the environment.

Most of these people re-writing the Greenpeace history today never met Robert Hunter or myself and have no first hand knowledge of the early days of Greenpeace.

An accurate history of Greenpeace can be found in the book Greenpeace by Rex Weyler who first served with Greenpeace on the 1975 campaign to protect the whales alongside Robert Hunter and myself.

Confusion: Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd

Watson founded his own group, Sea Shepherd, in 1977.

  • In 1986, Sea Shepherd carried out an action against the Icelandic whaling station in Hvalfjoerdur and sank two Icelandic whaling vessels in Reykjavik harbour by opening their sea valves;[1]
  • In December 1992, Sea Shepherd sank the vessel Nybraena in port;[2]
  • Sea Shepherd claimed to have sank the Taiwanese drift net ship Jiang Hai in port in Taiwan and to have rammed and disabled four other Asian drift net ships;[3]
  • A Canadian court ordered Watson and his former ship, the Cleveland Armory, to pay a total of US$ 35,000 for ramming a Cuban fishing vessel off the coast of Newfoundland in June 1993;[4]
  • In January 1994 the group severely damaged the whaling ship Senet in the Norwegian port of Gressvik.[5]

Each of the whaling ships noted above was refloated and refitted for continued whaling.

Captain Paul Watson: Greenpeace only touched on a few of our actions but seems to give the impression they were of little consequence. Saying that the ships were damaged and then refloated is not exactly true. The two Icelandic whaling ships were refloated but never used again because all the equipment and electronics were destroyed. That hit cost the Icelanders $10 million and shut them down for a decade. Greenpeace did not mention the whaler Sierra and the two Spanish whalers sunk in 1981. All three of them never whaled again. Nor did the whaler Astrid or the South African whalers Susan and Theresa. They are incorrect on the fine. Sea Shepherd never paid a fine for ramming a Cuban trawler and in fact the court ruled that the trawler was not rammed at all - there was no evidence of any contact. The Norwegian whalers were repaired and refloated and the result was a 3000% increase on marine insurance premiums. Our campaigns to destroy illegal whalers have been very successful and very costly to the whalers.

In a 2008 article in the New Yorker, Watson claims that Sea Shepherd has sunk ten ships since its founding, but the author of the article notes, with some skepticism, that she was unable to verify that number.

Captain Paul Watson: The author was a man not a woman and reported an anonymous source as stating that the numbers could not be verified. It really is hard to verify these kinds of actions but the question is, if Sea Shepherd did not sink them then who did? No one else has ever claimed responsibility. We rammed (1979)  and we sunk (1980) the pirate whaler Sierra in Portugal, the whalers Isba I and Isba II in Spain in 1980, The Hvalur 6 and Hvalur 7 in Iceland in 1986, the Nybraena in 1992, the Senet in 1994 and the Morild in 1998, all in Norway. We also contributed to the permanent retirement of the Susan and Teresa in 1980 in South Africa and the Astrid in the Canary Islands in 1980.

Paul Watson's and Sea Shepherd's actions have sometimes been wrongly attributed to Greenpeace, often in an attempt by others to damage Greenpeace's reputation for non-violence.

Captain Paul Watson: Greenpeace canvassers have taken credit for Sea Shepherd actions on many occasions in order to solicit funds and thus have deliberately contributed to this confusion.

Greenpeace has never sunk a whaling ship.

Captain Paul Watson: No they haven't. If they had they would have actually have saved some whales.

Some anti-environmentalists try to use the fact that an extreme minority in the environmental movement resorts to force and sabotage to brand the movement as a whole as "terrorist." One such attempt has been specifically condemned by a Norwegian court. [7]

Captain Paul Watson: There is nothing extremist about saving the lives of whales from illegal whaling operations. It seems like a very conservative action to me - upholding international conservation law. Eco-terrorism is the illegal destruction of endangered species and habitats. Sea Shepherd has never injured a single person nor been convicted of a single felony nor have we ever been sued. We don't break the law, we uphold it.

In 1991, we had an agreement with Sea Shepherd that we would refrain from public criticism of one another. Today, many of Sea Shepherd's fundraising communications and Paul Watson's public communications are filled with attacks on Greenpeace, our methods, our activists, and our supporters. They are often peppered with inaccuracies and outright untruths. Paul Watson is still fighting a one-sided battle that was over for Greenpeace in 1977.

Captain Paul Watson: I have continuously asked Greenpeace to cooperate with Sea Shepherd and they have refused so I am unaware of this agreement they refer to. When Greenpeace refers to us as eco-terrorists we defend ourselves. When they accuse us of violence we have to defend ourselves. It is not one-sided. They have not forgiven me for the incident in 1986 when I was asked to respond to a Greenpeace accusation that I was an eco-terrorist. I replied, "what do you expect from the Avon Ladies of the Environmental Movement?" My criticisms of Greenpeace are legitimate. They are posturing and posing and collecting millions of dollars to save whales and doing very little to actually save whales other than to send out appeals for money to save whales. They have become the world's largest feel good organization selling a clean conscience in return for ecological dispensation and forgiveness. As a co-founder of Greenpeace I sometimes feel like Dr. Frankenstein having helped create this big green corporate monster.

This posting is being done in response to the Greenpeace posting that I was not a founder of Greenpeace. I don't attack Greenpeace unprovoked. I defend Sea Shepherd from their malicious accusations that we are violent. They cannot cite a single incident where Sea Shepherd has committed a felony, injured another person or had one of our own crew seriously injured.  Greenpeace has had numerous felony convictions and presently has two crew awaiting trial in Japan on charges of stealing private property from the mail.

In most cases, we simply don't respond to Paul Watson's criticism.  While we don't agree with Sea Shepherd's methods, we also know that stories of divisiveness within the ranks of environmental groups distract from the real issues which unite us, and we prefer that when the media writes about whaling, they write about the real issues. Although Paul Watson is a vehement anti-whaling activist, he regularly lends his support to attacks on Greenpeace -- some of them organised by the whalers themselves.

Captain Paul Watson: This is true, they initiate the attacks and we respond. I don't recall supporting any whalers but I have to say that Greenpeace usually does not respond back to our criticisms because they usually don't have any answers to those criticisms. When I accuse them of spending 10 months raising money to oppose the Japanese whalers in Antarctica and then pulling out of the campaign two weeks before the whaling fleet sails, they don't have a credible response.  I do lend my support to other environmental groups that attack Greenpeace like the latest attack by environmentalists in British Columbia against Greenpeace for selling out to the logging companies.

Our committment to non-violence: why we don't cooperate

Paul Watson has made many public requests for Greenpeace to reveal the location of the whaling fleet or otherwise cooperate with Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean when the ships of both organisations have been there simultaneously.

Captain Paul Watson: We provide Greenpeace with coordinates for the whalers, and we expected them to return the favor.

We passionately want to stop whaling, and will do so peacefully. That's why we won't help Sea Shepherd. Greenpeace is committed to non-violence and we'll never, ever, change that, not for anything. If we helped Sea Shepherd to find the whaling fleet we'd be responsible for anything they did having got that information, and history shows that they've used violence in the past, in the most dangerous seas on Earth. For us, non-violence is a non-negotiable, precious principle. Greenpeace will continue to act to defend the whales, but will never attack or endanger the whalers.

Captain Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd has never committed an act of violence. We have never injured anyone. We have never been convicted of a felony (Greenpeacers have). We have never been sued (Greenpeace has). Greenpeace has also been reported by Japan for ramming a Japanese whaler and then denounces us for doing the same thing. In actual fact neither Greenpeace nor Sea Shepherd have deliberately rammed a Japanese whaler. In both cases, it was Japan that imitated the ramming. The latest Greenpeace tactic has been to steal property from the Japanese mail. The Greenpeace policy of bearing witness is just another way of saying that they are cowards. You don't watch whales die and just take their pictures. You intervene and you stop the killing - that is real non-violence - to stop the killing without hurting anyone.

I don't think you can use the word "passionately" to describe the unfurling of banners and the filming of dying whales. That to me is detachment, not passion. How do you passionately watch a whale die? No, passion dictates that you passionately defend the whale to prevent it from dying.

Greenpeace also places the lives of my crew and myself in danger by making unsubstantiated accusations of violence against us. Such accusations give justification to the whalers to react violently towards us.

Back in 1986 when the Faorese police fired at us it was because Greenpeace had informed them that we were intent on violence to their whalers.

Greenpeace may say they are opposed to violence but they appear to have no problem in provoking violence towards Sea Shepherd activists and myself.

We differ with Paul Watson on what constitutes violence. He states that nobody has ever been harmed by a Sea Shepherd action.  But the test of non-violence is the nature of your action, not whether harm results or not.  There are many acts of violence -- for example, holding a gun to someone's head -- which result in no harm.  That doesn't change their nature. We believe that throwing butyric acid at the whalers, dropping cables to foul their props, and threatening to ram them in the freezing waters of the Antarctic constitutes violence because of the potential consequences. The fact that the consequences have not been realised is irrelevant.

Captain Paul Watson: The Dalai Lama is a Sea Shepherd supporter and I don't think he would be supporting us if we were a violent organization as Greenpeace constantly accuses us of being. By the above logic, Greenpeace, I repeat is also guilty of violence because by constantly accusing Sea Shepherd of being violent they are providing justification to the whalers to respond violently against us.

In addition to being morally wrong, we believe the use of violence in protection of whales to be a tactical error. If there's one way to harden Japanese public opinion and ensure whaling continues, it's to use violent tactics against their fleet. It's wrong because it puts human lives at risk, and it's wrong because it makes the whalers stronger in Japan.

Captain Paul Watson: The failure to protect life from lethal attack is also an act of violence. Bearing witness to violence while allowing the violence to continue is a violent strategy because lives are lost. Saving lives through intervention without hurting the killers is a much better approach to non-violence in my opinion. I also don't believe the whales have the time to wait until the Japanese public and government decide to stop killing whales. If we adopted this attitude, then international society would never have forced the end to the persecution of the Jews by the Nazi's. We should have, by Greenpeace logic, waited until the German people decided to stop killing Jews on their own.

We work with many other groups whose methods differ from ours, and we know the power of cooperation among groups with a common objective but diverse ways of working.  We have for decades had productive working relationships with the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Friends of the Earth, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Sierra Club, Environmental Investigative Agency, and a host of other groups dedicated to whale conservation.   We would only be willing to cooperate with Sea Shepherd under the condition that it would not facilitate endangering human life.

Captain Paul Watson: All the groups listed are big, wealthy organizations that share the Greenpeace approach of investing large sums of money to raise more money to build up their corporate brand. What is interesting is that the majority of the original Greenpeace founders left Greenpeace to support and work with Sea Shepherd.

To give one example, in 2005/2006, Sea Shepherd attempted to snarl the propeller of the Nisshin Maru with a rope and cable, as reported on their own website:

Two of our three zodiacs were equipped with devices we had made to foul their propeller; basically two buoys connected with steel cable and rope that we would place in front of their ship in hopes that the Maru would run it over, it would pass underneath their hull and into their propeller at the stern of their ship causing their ship to slow down dramatically or be stopped completely. The Maru was running at full speed away from the Farley. Both zodiacs deployed their devices repeatedly. None seemed to work against the goliath Nisshin Maru ship...

Running out of options and having lost both of our propeller fouling devices, all hope seemed lost of slowing the Maru.

Disabling a ship at sea in the Antarctic, regardless of how much one may object to its activities, is not only a callous act of disregard for human life, it's courting an environmental disaster in one of the most fragile environments in the world.

Captain Paul Watson: Except that Greenpeace has many times attempted to disable ships at sea. They have confiscated drift nets and then condemned Sea Shepherd for doing the same. They have rammed whaling ships and then condemned Sea Shepherd for doing the same. They have taken actions that have put human life at risk and then condemned Sea Shepherd for doing the same. Greenpeace forgets that we are opposing criminals who are willfully takes the lives of endangered whales. I think that justifies a little intervention with their death machinery.

Such tactics are not only dangerous to the whalers, they are dangerous to the cause of stopping Japanese whaling. Our political analysis is unequivocal: if Japanese whaling is to be stopped, it will be stopped by a domestic decision within the Japanese government to do so.   That's why we have invested heavily in a Greenpeace office in Japan and efforts to speak directly to the Japanese public -- 70 percent of whom are unaware that whaling takes place in the Southern Ocean at all.  A majority of those who are aware of the whaling programme oppose it.   Support for whaling in Japan has been steadily falling for the last decade. Consumption of whale meat is in decline, the cost of the programme to taxpayers is being questioned by the business community, and the political costs of the programme have created opposition in the Foreign Affairs department in Japan.  All of this progress could be undone by a nationalist backlash.  By making it easy to paint anti-whaling forces as dangerous, piratical terrorists, Sea Shepherd could undermine the forces within Japan which could actually bring whaling to an end.

Captain Paul Watson: It was this kind of attitude by Jewish leaders in the Warsaw ghetto that resulted in the holocaust. The leaders begged the people to not resist and to allow the Germans and the Poles to save them. The Japanese people are aware of whaling since last year because of the drama that Sea Shepherd created in the Southern Oceans. And I think they respect us more for going eye to eye with them on the high seas than they do of Greenpeacers breaking into mail trucks to steal private property in a silly effort to prove that whalers are stealing from whalers. We are not concerned with crimes by whalers against whalers. We are opposing crimes by whalers against whales.

In Japan, Sea Shepherd was described in an editorial in the Asahi Shimbun as "samurai conservationists". They respect us as warriors for the whales. Greenpeacers are pretty much dismissed as amusing and irrelevant, certainly not a threat to their profits.

A few facts

We've got fairly thick skins here at Greenpeace.  When you challenge powerful forces, you need to be ready to put up with accusations of ulterior motives and hidden agendas. What's unfortunate is when we have to spend time countering friendly fire -- attacks by an organisation that shares the same goals as we do.  We don't mind robust disagreements, but we do object to falsehoods.

Captain Paul Watson: Our goals are different than Greenpeace goals. We want to end whaling and they want to continue to raise funds off whaling.

As the New Yorker article on Paul Watson noted, in his book "Earthforce!":

Watson advises readers to make up facts and figures when they need to, and to deliver them to reporters confidently,  "as Ronald Reagan did."

Captain Paul Watson: My book was a book on strategy and that was a strategy put forth by Ronald Reagan. That was not advice - simply pointing out an effective strategy used effectively by a U.S. President.

Paul Watson has claimed that Greenpeace goes to the Antarctic merely to film whales being killed, to wave banners and to bear witness to their deaths - but does nothing to save them.

This is untrue.

Captain Paul Watson: From what I have seen of Greenpeace actions, it simply is true. They are doing little but ocean posing, getting photo ops to raise large amounts of funds and not using those funds to defend whales.

Greenpeace saves whales

Greenpeace has directly saved the lives of countless whales over more than three decades by manoeuvring our boats between the harpoon and the whale. Many of us have risked our lives in those actions from Iceland to the Antarctic. But, while we consider it acceptable to risk our own lives for the whales, we don't believe in risking anyone else's.

Captain Paul Watson: I disagree. I invented and developed the tactic of blocking harpoons with inflatable boats. It was and remains an ineffective tactic. Greenpeace uses the term "risking their lives" as a slogan. We actually mean it. I have noticed that when the going gets tough that Greenpeace goes away like this year. As soon as the Japanese indicate they are going to send a gunboat to protect the whaling fleet, Greenpeace announces they will not be returning to Antarctica. The Japanese government successfully frightened them away.

In 2006 a harpoon was fired over one of our inflatables and the line fell on the boat, pulling one crew member into the freezing waters of the Antarctic. According to records kept by the whalers (we were too busy to keep records) we interfered with them 26 times in 2006. Shortly after sighting us the whalers departed at high speed - their own records show they lost nine days of hunting due to interference with their operations.  The whalers rammed our ships twice, hit one of our crew members with a metal pole and used a high-powered water cannon against us. Despite this, they came in 82 whales short of their quota.  In 2008, the whalers ran from us for 14 consecutive days, days that were lost to them for hunting. Since they need to catch an average of around 9-10 whales a day to make their self-appointed quota, this action alone saved the lives of over 100 whales.

Captain Paul Watson: It is my opinion that they came 82 whales short of their quota because Sea Shepherd was chasing them continuously. And falling in the water is no big deal when you are wearing a drysuit or a wet suit under a survival suit. We fall in the water all the time but we don't make a drama out of it. The high powered water cannon is easily avoided but Greenpeace runs straight into it for the dramatic photo opportunity it provides. Posturing and posing and making whale snuff flicks is what they do and they do it well but it has not saved a single whale. It may be noticed that in previous years when Sea Shepherd was not chasing the whaling fleet, they made no such claims of successful interventions.

Greenpeace works to save whales around the world, all year round, and with a variety of tactics.

Along with the Worldwide Fund for Nature, we were the primary advocates that created public pressure for the moratorium on commercial whaling which was agreed in 1982.  That single piece of work has saved the lives of tens of thousands of whales and ended the whaling programmes of the Soviet Union, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Spain.

We have undertaken political work to maintain support for the moratorium on commercial whaling and counter Japanese vote-buying schemes. There have been years in which the conservation majority in the International Whaling Commission has hung by a thread,  in one case by a single vote. By lobbying conservation minded countries to join the International Whaling Commission and successfully pressuring countries like Denmark to change their policies toward conservation, our millions of supporters and activists have worked quietly behind the scenes to save whales.

Captain Paul Watson: I was a part of that pressure to create the moratorium as were many others. It was not a Greenpeace achievement it was an anti-whaling movement achievement. Sea Shepherd helped Ecuador to join the IWC and delivered a vote for the whales. And Denmark changing their policies? - I think not. Denmark is a major advocate of whaling and thousands of pilot whales are killed each year in the Danish Faeroe Islands where Sea Shepherd has intervened four times and Greenpeace never has because they said that their supporters in Denmark did not support interference with their culture. Apparently interfering with everyone else's culture is okay for the Danes.

What Greenpeace forgets is that there is no person other than myself who has been a consistent activist for the whales from 1974 until the present. That is 35 years of defending the whales in every sea on the planet yet they dismiss my experience and my persistence as something negative. I am merely doing today what I did when I was with Greenpeace three decades ago. Greenpeace changed. I did not.

Working in Japan to stop whaling

Greenpeace has had an office in Japan since 1989.  As a result of hard, steady work over the years we have succeeded in making whaling a subject of domestic debate in Japan where none has existed before.  We've brought Japanese celebrities, musicians, and artists to speak out against whaling, exposed taxpayer-sponsored promotional efforts by the Japanese government -- by exposing waste and corruption in the bureaucracy that supports whaling, we've generated criticism of whaling in some of Japan's largest newspapers, and articles in the business press asking whether Japan should end its whaling programme.

Captain Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd has been active in Japan since 1981, beginning with our efforts to free dolphins from the nets of their killers. Our efforts have actually saved lives. Greenpeace efforts have not made a dent in Japanese policies on whaling. Japanese businessmen understand profit and loss and have little use for sentimental campaigns. They simply do not care about cruelty issues nor do they seem very concerned about conservation issues. Sea Shepherd speaks the one language they understand - profit and loss and we have them on the ropes financially with a loss of profits three years running.

On 15 May, 2008, Greenpeace Japan used undercover investigators and the testimony of informers to expose that large amounts of prime cut whale meat were being smuggled from the whaling ship Nisshin Maru disguised as personal baggage, labelled "cardboard" or "salted stuff" and addressed to the private homes of crewmembers. Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki intercepted one box out of four sent to one address, discovered it contained whale meat valued at up to US$3,000, and took it to the Tokyo public prosecutor.

Captain Paul Watson: Whaling is illegal so I am at a loss as to what can be gained by exposing corruption and an illegal industry. The only people concerned about the theft of whale meat are the whalers. This is like the FBI investigating the Mafia for the benefit of the Godfather. Stealing whale meat from the mail in Japan has nothing to do with stopping illegal whaling by the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica.

Their public press conference drew national attention in Japan, and a promise by the public prosecutor to "fully investigate" the charges.

Captain Paul Watson: The prosecutors dismissed the investigation as irrelevant and laid charges against two Greenpeacers for theft of property. Sato and Suzuki are not being prosecuted for opposing whaling. They are being prosecuted for a crime that has little of importance to do with whaling.

Instead, Junichi and Toru were arrested for stealing the box of whale meat, and the scandal investigation was dropped by the Tokyo public prosecutor's office the same day; it was clear that the two events were connected, just as it is clear that both were politically motivated. Although Junichi and Toru had provided full cooperation to the police, it took some five weeks to make the arrests, and when they did, more than 40 officers raided the Greenpeace Japan office, with the media tipped off by police beforehand.  The Greenpeace activists learned of their imminent arrest from the TV news the same day the embezzlement case was dropped.

Captain Paul Watson: The charges could indeed be politically motivated but Greenpeace put themselves into the position of being charged for theft. It was not a smart tactic. Strategy requires preparation.

The two activists now face up to ten years imprisonment.  We consider them political prisoners, and believe that powerful forces have instrumented a crackdown aimed at discrediting Greenpeace in Japanese society.  This means we've hit a nerve.  We intend to put all our efforts into turning the tables, and putting the whaling interests on trial in the court of public opinion in Japan.  We see the reaction of whaling interests as conforming perfectly to the way the most successful Greenpeace campaigns play out: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. Then you win."

Captain Paul Watson: This is amusing because that is exactly what Greenpeace has done with Sea Shepherd. First they ignored us, then they laughed at us and then they attacked us. I remember Greenpeace leader David McTaggart once telling The Age newspaper when asked abut Sea Shepherd, "Sea Shepherd, never heard of them," and then added, "they are irrelevant." Japan does not need a campaign to discredit Greenpeace in Japan. They were discredited many years ago. They are now trying to make a mountain out of a molehill by saying they have to focus all of their energies on defending their two directors. This is simply a convenient excuse for not sending down a ship and crew to Antarctica. They can certainly afford to do both.

Greenpeace has too much money?

Captain Paul Watson: I have never said that Greenpeace has too much money. I've said that they do not spend the money they raise on the purposes the money was raised for. For example they have raised millions of dollars over the last 10 months to protect whales in Antarctica but only two weeks before the scheduled departure of the Japanese whaling fleet, they announced they would not be returning to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Watson likes to paint a picture of Greenpeace as enjoying vast riches, but in fact Greenpeace accepts no money from governments or corporations, and our resources are minuscule compared to the task before us. We rely almost entirely on the donations of nearly 3 million people worldwide, and we spend those hard-earned donations in ways that win campaigns for the environment.

Captain Paul Watson: This is not true that they have not accepted corporate or government funding. I was the dissenting vote in 1976 when Greenpeace accepted a large donation from Ed Daly of Air America also known as the C.I.A. airways. The donation came with the condition that Greenpeace continue to harass the Soviet whaling fleet and to not pursue the Japanese whaling fleet. This was in fact the beginning of my disagreements with the Greenpeace Board of Directors. Greenpeace also accepted a very large donation in the mid-eighties from the Soviet Union to sponsor a peace concert in Moscow. I notice that Greenpeace states they rely "almost entirely" on the donations of their members. That implies other sources of funding.

To put our budget in perspective, in 2007 Exxon-Mobil generated more revenue in less than six hours than Greenpeace raised worldwide from its supporters for the entire year.  Our annual donations are less than the value of seven days of the global value of the illegal forest industry, or three days of the subsidies to the global fisheries industry.  The nuclear industry spends more money in advertising than Greenpeace International's entire operating budget.

Captain Paul Watson: This is an absurd comparison but it illustrates just how much money Greenpeace does raise. Exxon-Mobil generates an incredible amount of money in six hours and the amount of money given in subsidies to global fisheries worldwide is about $75 billion dollars so three days of subsidies is about $600 million dollars which is about twice Greenpeace's actual budget. I don't begrudge Greenpeace this budget, I only wish they used the funds more effectively.

The full breakdown of what we raise, what we spend, and what we spend it on is released every year in our Annual Report.

Most importantly, Greenpeace gets results.  In the three decades since our founding, we have combined our unique brand of non-violent direct action with political lobbying, scientific research, and public mobilisation to bring an end to nuclear weapons testing, stop the dumping of hazardous waste at sea, secure the moratorium on commercial whaling, and win dozens of other significant steps toward our ultimate goal of a green and peaceful future for our planet.

Captain Paul Watson: There is no argument from me that Greenpeace has taken credit for much of this. And the fact is there are well intentioned dedicated Greenpeace activists on the ground doing good work, inspired by the cause. But I would compare it to the Catholic Church. There are thousands of dedicated and sincere Catholic priests and nuns working to help the poor all over the world but they are not the Pope. The institution of the Catholic church is rich, corrupt and powerful but this does not make their followers culpable. Greenpeace today sells ecological dispensation in the same way that Pope Rodrigo Borgia once sold dispensation into heaven. Greenpeace has become the world's largest feel-good organization. Join Greenpeace and become part of the solution without having to change your life-style. It's a growing business. There is the illusion that Greenpeace gets results and in some cases they do, but in reality but there is little bang for the buck. Greenpeace has become a compromising organization.

In conclusion

Paul Watson is welcome to express his opinions about Greenpeace - as a radical environmental organisation, we have a wide spectrum of detractors, and we welcome fair criticism.  But, we expect fair debate to be based in fact, not falsehoods.

Captain Paul Watson: I am more than willing to cooperate with Greenpeace as long as they use the large sums of money they collect to defend whales to actually defend whales. As a co-founder of Greenpeace I have to say I am proud of the idea called Greenpeace that we launched in the early Seventies. We saw it then as a movement and not as the corporation that it has become today. When Greenpeace stops referring to us as violent then we will stop openly referring to them as ineffective. When Greenpeace stops referring to us as eco-terrorists, we will no longer openly accuse them of turning the environment into a marketable resource. When Greenpeace uses the money it has collected to save the whales to actually save the whales then we will stop accusing them of fraud. And finally if Greenpeace had not posted this fiction they call fact, I would not be having to post a response.


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