Thursday, November 13, 2008

Whale Wars-Wagging the Conservation Dog

Our Whale Wars post this week has generated a mass of offline and thoughtful emails here at Underwater Thrills. We also got a few hysterical foaming-at-the-mouth diatribes as well.

Here's one example highlighting how Wagging the Conservation Dog harms an entire movement:

Sea Shepherd are not helping whales, they are exacerbating the problem. Every time they clash with the whaling ships in the Antarctic, the Japanese look like the victims, and they spin this for all it's worth at the IWC - "irresponsible NGOs, terrorist organisations" etc. SSCS are gifting the Japanese whalers a bargaining chip to use within the international diplomatic community. Whilst their hearts might be in the right place, and their passion evident, SSCS are sadly out of touch with reality.

Conservation doesn't happen by putting yourself between a harpoon and a whale - although admittedly that is a great way to get publicity. Real conservation happens in international fora - at the IWC, at CITES, within CMS, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBAMS. It's only though negotiation and diplomacy that NGOs can persuade governments and decision-making bodies to lay down new laws that protect wildlife . A £10,000 donation to an NGO that does this kind of work will secure the future of thousands or perhaps millions of whales and dolphins - SSCS would burn through it in a couple of days chasing the Japanese whalers around icebergs, giving just a handful of whales a temporary reprieve.

SSCS are attracting a lot of attention for their antics, and this is diverting funds from the organisations that can really make the difference. The environmental NGO community has come a long, long way in the past 20 years, and we've got inside governments and international fora to a point where we affect REAL change. By tackling the economics of whaling and trade, creating legal frameworks, working with industry and governance - we are making a huge difference to the conservation and welfare of these animals worldwide.

SSCS are alienating and undermining the conservation movement, not helping it. Funders should think long and hard before giving money to SSCS, and question the true value of what they get in return.


Stu Bob said...

"Sea Shepherd are not helping whales." Yeah, right. In the 30 or so years since Sea Shepherd was set up, Paul Watson has not seen a single whale die. Why do you think that is? Because when Sea Shepherd turn up, the whalers run for it, that's why. If that's not helping whales, what is? If we leave it all up to diplomacy and talks, then thousands of whales will die in Antarctica before any change happens. A £10,000 donation to a group like Greenpeace will sit earning interest in their bank account; a £10,000 donation to Sea Shepherd will be used to actually do something useful to stop whaling. Talking things through in a "nice" way may make humans feel like they're doing something good for whales, but humans aren't the ones being threatened with death here. If Sea Shepherd are harming the "movement", it's because the movement is as interested in keeping the coffers full of donations as it is in making meaningful change.

Shark Diver said...

Hi Stu Bob,

We'll respond to this with a post from someone else last week. You have to see a reality here beyond the fabrications of Sea Shepherd and what you see on television. Look into and talk with the other NGO's, read and become informed.

Whales need concerted and concise efforts on all fronts-they do not need fabricated reality television and slick editing:

Higs said...

You're completely right.

Watson's tiresome cannibalizing of the environmental movement for the sin of not being him is one of the worst disservices to whale conservation ever.

His chest-thumping has ALWAYS been fabricated. He claims to be a founder of Greenpeace. He's not.

He claims to have disabled entire whaling fleets by sinking them. But every single whaling ship he has "sunk" has been refloated and refitted for whaling, saving exactly zero whales:

In one memorable episode, he described challenging the Oriental Bluebird "as it was bearing down on the helpless whales." The Oriental Bluebird is the refrigerator ship which transports whale meat -- it has no harpoons, and Watson was miles away from the actual hunt.

In the meantime, he trashes groups like WWF, IFAW, and Greenpeace who have done real work in the poltiical arenas and in Japan.

The man is a pathological liar and an egomaniac. There are dozens of people around the world who have sailed with him and sworn never to do so again.

Holly said...

Well, after watching last nights episode, I can now see where you are coming from about Paul Watson.

Im glad they are taking action. In some ways I really feel jealous. However, last night, I felt like the Sea Shepard group might as well have been standing outside a Macys with cans of red paint shouting Fur is Murder. They really portrayed themselves as a radical group. I think they could go about it in a much better way.

I am torn, because like I mentioned before, at least SOMETHING is being done. Radical or not.

Thanks again for shedding some light to the ill-informed ( such as myself)