Monday, July 9, 2012

Did Sea Shepherd Take Shark Conservation Into a Brave New World?

Dear Shark Conservation Community,

I write this desperate email from the future having perfected time travel in my spare time. I don't know what the deal is with scientists because I did it with a few random wires, an old refrigerator box, and this glowing object that fell from the sky on a recent drift boat trip down the Mackenzie River.

I recently visited several of the years from 2022 - 2100. While I really enjoyed hanging out with dead celebrities for extended AppleGooFace Hover Hikes through the Grand Canyon in 2050, I am actually writing to warn you of impending DOOM for shark conservation.

Yes, DOOM.

You see as it turns out Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the year 2012 decided to get into the shark conservation game in a big way and no one in the wider shark conservation community even noticed. Save for a few bloggers, shark diving operators, filmmakers, and shark conservation folks whose metrics based conservation efforts were in fact changing real conservation paradigms and yes - saving actual sharks.

Conservation folks from the future, those who are left, call this period in time, "The Golden Years."

It all started with Whale Wars in 2009, an Animal Planet soap opera/reality tv show that featured Sea Shepherd in all it's media glory chasing whalers...year, after year, after year, after year. They called this conservation. But the animals kept being harvested and even South Korea joined in after watching Japan harvest whales from coastal waters for over a decade without any opposition.

Much like Sea Shepherds other efforts to save seals in Canada for 35 years to no avail.

China sadly harvested the last Canadian seal in 2034 with the President of China dressed in traditional Inuit native clothing holding up the last seal pup by the tail to cheering cod fishermen from Newfoundland.

Not to mention the Bluefin Tuna that went extinct in 2041.

I was at the last Sushi Party for Bluefin watching in anticipation with an invite only crowd of 300,000 as Russian Oligarch, Dimitri Vostanoff, carefully lifted the last known slice of Bluefin to his mouth at a cost of $425 million dollars.

In attendance was a stage filled with Tibetan Monks giving ancient blessings upon the event, the entire Mitsubishi Corporation Board, weeping heads of state from the Mediterranean and a small group of Bikini Clad Sea Shepherd Extremists who rammed a perfect replica of the Hover Ship Steve Irwin into the side of the GoogleFace Concert Stadium in Wembly, U.K

Folks in attendance treated the ramming and subsequent explosion as any other media stunt in the future. Many opted for the "Donate Now" button on the side of their ocular implants and donated money to Sea Shepherd with two quick blinks. A girl next to me waving a tuna flag said, "not quite as good as the Greenpeace Volcano Jump for Marsupials, but I will give them a few dollars none the less."

It seemed strange to see Sea Shepherds in Bikinis, even the men, sporting the traditional Paul Watson big belly and White Beards of Truth and Justice, but that is the conservation world of 2041. A place where conservation looks a lot like big budget Hollywood stunts that served no actual purpose but to get folks to donate to the next big budget Hollywood stunt.

The Presidents of Planet Earth (2022-2053) Trey Parker and Matt Stone even produced a little documentary on the early exploits of Sea Shepherd, perhaps you have seen it.

If I thought the Bluefin Tuna spectacle was strange my visit to 2100 still haunts me.

In 2012 Sea Shepherd created another soap opera/reality tv show for sharks. In a world that was already filled to capacity with honest and hard working conservation groups struggling to bring awareness and conservation help to dwindling shark stocks, this new program was designed to do what Paul Watson, then head of Sea Shepherd did best before he succumbed to a $75.00 sustainable appetizer at a Hollywood fundraising party in 2026:

1. Lay claim to all conservation.

2. Create personality cults around "high value" wildlife.

3. Get ordinary folks to donate to Sea Shepherd by offering them media spectacles for their money.

It's known as the "Watson Doctrine," and there's even a statue to his honor at the Grand Palace of Conservation. A sprawling 70 acre estate in Hollywood where the old Church of Scientology used to sit before it was purchased by Sea Shepherd in 2023. They kept the religion, just changed the logos on all the vestments, wall hangings, and Scientology Sippy Cups.

Much like the Romans did to Christianity in AD 391.

A 200 foot tall and 90 foot wide statue of Watson stands in gilded glory pointing to the horizon with Sea Shepherds motto blazed across the sky day and night with 700 Diamodium lasers - "Make It Up As You Go Along."

After the airing of the new Shark Reality TV show in 2014 Sea Shepherd essentially owned shark conservation by sucking up all the conservation bandwidth and donations, laying claim to the hard work of others.

They even started a new fashion trend in the conservation world, The Conservation Bikini or Con-ninni.

As it turned out and much to the horror of the many thousands of hardworking souls who had quietly worked to save sharks without wanting to grab the media spotlight, the Sea Shepherd Spectacle Machine rolled right over them. Replacing years of metrics based shark conservation with reality tv bytes and vessel rammings that did nothing but suck money from regular folks coming home from minimum wage jobs.

These shows also helped sell SUV's and detergent during the commercial break which made Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd the darling of giant earth wasting chemical companies, huge corporations, and well heeled politicians who soon realized that supporting conservation groups who seemed radical was good for business.

I came back from the year 2100 exhausted.

This is not the place that I ever envisioned conservation would end up. It happened because instead of pushing back against media spectacle and personality cults that started to infest and subsume the conservation world in 2012 too many of us sat by and said and did nothing. In fact many of us adopted this strange new world hoping to become the Kardashians of Conservation, selling hand bags and tailored soaps to help animals that commercial fishing fleets and big governments were taking from our oceans with abandon.

It's not too late, that's why I came back, to make a difference by saying "no" to the insanity that soon will be.

It's up to us.

Now if you'll excuse me I have a date with Rolling Stones in concert at the Music Hall in Athens.

After the Greek bailout in 2014 failed the Stones bought the whole country and with life extension technology from Russia have been playing twice a decade gigs to throngs of fans.

Set dial for July 18th, 2120 and I..am....outta.....here.

More on the subject here and here (read it, this is great stuff).

Cheers,
Patric Douglas CEO
www.sharkdiver.com
415.235.9410


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at sharkcrew@gmail.com.

10 comments:

Tim said...

Glad to see you back Patric!

Janine J C said...

I agree with some of your comments and not others. I would like to offer two thoughts: 1.How many people would have read this post if Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd did not exist? 2.You made a comment that actually justifies the work of Sea Shepherd "In a world that was already filled to capacity with honest and hard working conservation groups struggling to bring awareness and conservation help to dwindling shark stocks,..." The word "struggling" says it all.
I wish everyone could work together on this!

Janine J C said...

I agree with some of your comments and not others. I would like to offer two thoughts: 1.How many people would have read this post if Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd did not exist? 2.You made a comment that actually justifies the work of Sea Shepherd "In a world that was already filled to capacity with honest and hard working conservation groups struggling to bring awareness and conservation help to dwindling shark stocks,..." The word "struggling" says it all.
I wish everyone could work together on this!

DaShark said...

oh.my.god.

Shark Diver said...

Hi Janine,

Struggling is good. It spawns creativity and alliances and makes for better a conservation product.

I will say this, the world will be a better place and more sharks will be alive and well if Sea Shepherd stays out of shark conservation entirely.

They bring nothing to the table except conservation fluff they call awareness.

I call it disruptive, self serving conservation noise.

If you want to fully understand Sea Shepherd ask why seals are still being killed in Canada after 30 years under Sea Shepherd.

Ask what happened to the 5.5 million dollars they spent vowing to stop the slaughter.

Ask again why whales are still being killed by Japan, why Paul Watson faked being assassinated and how much money they rake in now since their reality tv show aired?

These are not the folks I want to see anywhere near sharks.

OfficetoOcean said...

If Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd didn't exist, this post wouldn't exist so the answer to Janine J C's question is, Nobody because the post wouldn't exist as a direct result of the non-existence of this post's subject matter.

What do I win?

Yours sincerely
David McFly

P.S If a whale is harpooned and Sea Shepherd aren't there to film it, is it even harpooned at all?

Bed time for me I think...

DaShark said...

Mark this day in red: I would have to somewhat disagree!

There are some remarkable Shark conservation achievements by the SSCS!
I'm specifically thinking about their involvement in Ecuador/Galapagos where they do make a difference - but of course, this has largely happened sans bombastic reality shows and cum a lot of hard, intelligent and persistent work on the ground instead!

Shark Angels?
Believe it or not, I got some friends there, and they are just great!

The problem is when those legitimate and credible efforts get hijacked by the megalomania of a few, or when the org gets taken over by the new age whacks which I sense is what has happened in the SSCS.

Can those orgs be reformed?
Unlikely for the SSCS as this is now who they "are" - but when it comes to the Angels, there is hope.

Shark Diver said...

Mate you win the "Golden Prize for Conservation Thought"

It's a rare prize only seen twice in the past decade.

Jen Murrell said...

Love this post! Thanks for the laugh this am. Loved the bit about the Watson statue and the SSCS motto "Make it up as you go along!"

Shark Diver said...

To the Sea Shepherd troll who wanted to comment here but was blocked by us.

I understand many of the followers of The Watson are in fact small minded Anti-Asian loons who, when not wearing home made tin-foil hats to protect themselves from E-V-I-L, have difficulty reading past a third grade level.

Which not too surprisingly is the exact level your Dear Leader writes for his simply atrocious and rambling poetry diatribes he unleashes upon the world periodically like some sort of verbal "Weapon of Mass Distraction."

No, we are not interested debating with you the finer points of the Life of Paul.

No, this post was not serious and no, I did not travel into the future.

This was satire.

In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement.

See?

No?

Perhaps if you added just a bit more tin-foil to that hat of yours you might get it.

For the rest of you who did get it, what are we going to do about it?

Or will it just be the same, same, more hype, less action, and money that might have gone to others being sucked away by a bloated under competent org that for the very life of itself cannot even begin to imagine a third way into conservation.

Like the generals of WW1 who squandered the lives of 44,000 men in one single battle sending waves upon waves of humanity in a hopeless struggle against entrenched machine gun nests.

They too failed to "think differently" instead believing in their own small world fallacies.

Paul Watson is that guy, and his org reflects the stagnant hopelessness of failed conservation policy, failed efforts, and failed animal welfare.

Direct Action should have plausible and immediate results.

Direct Action should end slaughters, end policies, and save animals. Not for one week, or one year, but for all time.

Direct Action is failed policy.

We need to move away from personality cults and reality tv shows and back to metrics based conservation that, over time, actually works.

The thing is metrics based conservation is not sexy, it is not immediate, and it does not play well on television.

That is until someone with the bandwidth past that of a drooling troll comes up with the next big idea.

Anyone out there up for the task, or are we all happy with Whale Wars Season 167?

You know it's the season where SSCS saves a few more whales and unveils their latest weapon, production interns who projectile vomit on themselves and blame the Japanese.

Oh, and a new ship painted like Mothra.

Meanwhile, Japan for the 15th year in a row will quietly harvest whales right off their coasts unopposed (bet you did not know this) as they have been doing to make up quotas lost (a few middling animals) and to enjoy video re-runs of a giant moth ship that cracked in two and almost sank.