Friday, January 29, 2010

Sea Shepherd - Losing Hearts and Minds

Sea Shepherd has "Jumped the Shark."

In the process they have become an open laughing stock of not only the conservation world but of the general public as well. What started with last summers expose on South Park has become a full blown online rebellion against staged reality television under the increasingly thin guise of protecting and saving wildlife.

By any metric including Sea Shepherds own Paul Watson they are losing the media battle for the hearts and minds of a non-radicalized public.

Watson recently posted a long winded and far fetched explanation for why the worlds online comment media is not buying into his spoon fed and faked Whale Wars spectaculars, such as the ill fated "Watson Was Shot" (Whale Wars Season One) and this years alleged ramming of the Ady Gil.

Paul Watson

"One of the most insidious and underhanded attacks has been the ability of the Japanese whaling industry to use cyber warfare. We have reason to believe that they have infiltrated internet social forums and websites with a well funded campaign of disinformation and strategies designed to undermine our morale and erode our support with a barrage of lies, ad hominem attacks, character assassination, and cyber bullying."

The most obvious explanation for Watson's pseudo Clive Barker analysis? The public is no longer buying into patently faked Sea Shepherd media. Sea Shepherd has grossly underestimated its audience and their intelligence.

Therein lies the problem. Across the Internet and beyond Western audiences are tuning out of the conservation message of whaling. Anti-whaling efforts have become an entertainment vehicle, not conservation, and Sea Shepherd is to blame for this bizarre shift in consciousness.

If Western watchers of these seasonal media antics are not buying into them, where are Eastern sympathies for Japans ongoing whaling efforts?

Smart Conservation People

There are some undoubtedly smart, dedicated people who work with Sea Shepherd, and to ignore them would be wrong. Like pirate vessels of old, the captains role as master and commander of his vessel was a "performance based job." Pirate crews had the right to depose their captain if he failed to deliver.

We would like to suggest that happens now.

Over the past decades Paul Watson alone has managed to stubbornly apply a leisure suit wearing 1970's strategy to every "save the" campaign he has put forth. Today, twenty plus years later, whales are still being killed, seals harvested, and sharks taken all over the world.

Meanwhile in just the past two years Watson has lost close to 4 million dollars in donor money, vessels and equipment. Canadian authorities recently sold his impounded vessel the Farley Mowat at auction and now the Ady Gil lies at the bottom of the sea. Not to mention the untold gallons of diesel and oil spilled into the pristine Antarctic, trying to save whales - yet again.

Paul Watson's continual resetting of eco goals is one indication that even he, in his most private moments, realizes his organization is failing to effect any real and lasting changes. Over the years he has been quoted as saying his goal is to "stop whaling." That soon changed to "limit the numbers of whales killed," and today Watson's new and fully open ended commitment to whales suggests that his goals are to "bankrupt the whalers." With that one statement Watson has slyly committed Sea Shepherd and its radicalized followers to another 20-30 years of ineffective media staging.

This years sinking of the Ady Gil was tantamount to a group of camera laden PETA protesters ramming a car into the side of a meat processing plant...and then blaming the plant for attempted murder.

The conservation world is becoming tarnished by a small group of increasing irrelevant media event stagers who have redefined the meaning of metric based conservation to reality entertainment.

Clearly, the public has had enough. What is needed now is leadership change from within.

Which begs the question, are there any real leaders within the Sea Shepherd ranks?