Thursday, January 10, 2013

Has Paul Watson Been Done In?

So, Paul Watson is stepping down as the leader of "Sea Sheperd Conservation Society".

A step that many, myself included, thought would never happen.

Has he finally seen the light?

One could only hope.

He said that he's stepping aside to honor an injunction by a US court, banning him from coming within 500 yards of  and interfering with any Japanese Whaling Ship. On Sea Shepherd's website it states that: "Paul Watson will remain aboard to document the campaign." 

I'm sure that he'll only be documenting and not doing anything else. I mean he's Paul Watson, self appointed enforcer of international law! He wouldn't violate those international laws himself.

Nope, not Paul Watson!

Take his current status for example. He's not really a fugitive from the law, with a warrant out for his arrest by Interpol. He didn't endanger a fishing vessel in Costa Rican waters, when he tried to force them into port, to face the Costa Rican justice system, the same justice system that he's now not really running from.

So why did he really step aside from Sea Shepherd? I suspect is has more to do with a story that got less media attention. The fact that he's being sued by Ady Gil, the owner of the famous ship that was supposedly hit and sunk by a Japanese whaling ship. Ady Gil alleges that Paul Watson ordered the sinking of the ship, rather than bringing it back for repairs, for publicity reasons.

 A video on youtube clearly shows the "Ady Gil" just drifting in the water, alongside the Japanese ship. Then, at around the 19 second mark, the video shows whitewater behind the props, a clear sign that the "Ady Gil" engaged the props and propelled itself into the path of the whaling ship. So it was actually the "Ady Gil" that rammed the whaling ship, not the other way round no matter how many press releases from Sea Shepherd say otherwise.

His stepping aside is most likely an attempt to prevent Ady Gil's suit from potentially getting a lien against Sea Shepherds other ships.

So why do I think that the story about this lawsuit is really important? This is the first time that a big time supporter has come out against him. Someone who's given him a 5 million dollar vessel is now disenchanted by his actions to the point that he's suing him.

Maybe this will be a catalyst for other Sea Shepherd supporters to also take a closer look at how they operate. Hopefully this will signal a start to more support for mainstream conservation efforts. Efforts that can affect real change, instead of just media hype and self promotion. Efforts that have not only lacked financial support, because of money that's going to Sea Shepherd, but efforts that have also been undermined by the extreme and often fruitless actions taken by Sea Shepehrd.

Again, one can only hope, but when it comes to Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson, hope is something that's running in short supply these days.


Martin Graf
Managing Director
Shark Diver

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


Unknown said...

I remember when Paul Watson said they removed Pete Bethune from the sea shepherd crew (to help him in court) and then welcomed him back, I think this is just another ruse to try and save himself in court. I expect this transparent attempt will work as well as it did for Pete Bethune, he was convicted on all charges.

Anonymous said...

The noose is tightening around 30+ years of garbage conservation and millions of squandered donor dollars and opportunities to actually make a lasting difference.

Sad for the animals that Watson claims to love so much that once again the eco-media is all about him and NOT the animals.

I am sure there's a whale or two out there that see the irony.

MJW said...

I share your sentiments regarding Paul Watson and welcome his stepping down, but I don't really take it as a serious and permanent move. He is, as you say, the mighty enforcer of international conservation law; at least as he interprets it.

I do disagree with your conclusion that the stepping aside is because of the Ady Gil suit. I'm just not sure what purpose it would really serve plus the timing is slightly off.

On timing, though he could have been tipped in advance, Watson resigned on Monday, Jan 7, before the suit was filed. The suit was filed in LA Superior Court on Wed. Jan 9, two days later. The suit names both Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society plus others, as defendants in the case. I am unsure what could be gained at this point by a resignation and attempted seperation from the org. At the time this contractural arrangement was entered into, Watson was president/CEO or whatever he calls himself, of SSCS and his current status in the org would be irrelevant.

I think that by changing the leadership at this point in the campaign, Watson is trying to skirt the US court injunction. I think it is both feeble and transparent as another poster mentioned. But it is just the kind of decision based on cloudy judgement and a murky understanding of the law that we have come to expect from Watson.

Martin Graf said...

MJW, I agree with your comments. In my view the real news is the fact that Ady Gil has turned away from Seashepherd, a move that could open the eyes of other followers and signal a shift in his supporter base.