The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice: Captain Watson remains firm and active despite grief & legal persecution

We Will Not Back Down

COMMENTARY BY CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON

Captain Paul Watson, founder and president, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The one thing that I have been most proud of in my long career is the fact that after 35 years of interventions to defend marine life we have not caused a single injury to any person nor after some 350 voyages have I had any of my crew seriously injured. I am also proud of the fact that although we have been aggressively intervening against illegal whalers, sealers, dolphin killers, drift netters, trawlers, turtle killers and other ocean life-destroying enterprises, we have always done so within the boundaries of the law.

We have launched and carried out eight campaigns to oppose the Japanese whalers arrogantly operating in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We have not caused a single injury to any of them nor have we caused any damage to their ships. The whalers on the other hand have shot at us, rammed our ships and completely destroyed one of them without any legal consequences whatsoever. What we have done is to cripple them financially by blocking their ability to kill whales and the achievement that I am most proud of is that due to our interventions some 4,000 whales would now be dead if not for the courageous efforts of my incredible crews.

Our objective from the beginning of the campaign was to sink the Japanese whaling fleet economically. We have achieved that. We have bankrupted them and driven them into debt; and the whaling fleet, weaker now than ever, only survives due to massive subsidies from the Japanese government.

I have never been under any delusion that taking on one of the world’s great economic superpowers would not have consequences for us, especially since we have so humiliated the whalers at sea, outmaneuvering them and chasing them out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary with their kill quotas denied and their profits wiped out.

And of course the two events that could not be anticipated in our overall strategy have caused us the most problems.

The first is the Japanese tsunami.

Of the hundreds of millions of dollars contributed from around the world to the victims of that disaster, an allocation of some $30 million dollars was given to the whalers to fight Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. That is certainly not what the people who sent donations ever imagined that their contributions would be spent on. Rebuilding houses, food, medicine, repairing the infrastructure yes, but to subsidize the operations of the whalers to continue killing whales in a sanctuary – who could have foreseen such a betrayal of trust?

With that money the whalers have hired public relations firms, increased security, and initiated lawsuits. However, the increased security on their fleet failed to prevent Sea Shepherd from once again intervening and as a result the whalers took only some 26% of their intended kill and once again lost all possible profits, sinking even deeper into debt.

The filing for an injunction against Sea Shepherd in the United States courts also failed when the U.S. Judge denied their request for a preliminary injunction and although they are appealing the decision, their chances for success are slim.

They are forcing Sea Shepherd to expend funds on legal fees but such expenses are all part of the overall battle plan and our success at sea is bringing in more and more support, allowing us to continue our fight against their poaching activities both on the water and now in the court.

The tsunami funds have also been used to find strategies to defeat us and one of them was to track down a decade-old incident off Guatemala where we had intervened against an illegal Costa Rican shark-finning operation with permission of the Guatemalan government. The charges had been dismissed back then after the Costa Rican court reviewed our documentation, and the incident has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people in the award-winning documentary film, Sharkwater. But with a little persuasion from Japan, Costa Rica decided to resurrect the incident with a charge that we had sprayed water onto the shark-finning boat causing them to lose control and to collide with my ship. Even so there were no injuries and their vessel was not damaged. Hardly an extraditable offense.

When first filed with Interpol by Costa Rica, the request was denied. But when I landed in Germany on May 13th, the Germans decided to act on the request despite the dismissal and detained me. My suspicions right from the beginning were that this was a Japanese initiative and once Japan saw that Germany was willing to act on a bilateral basis with Costa Rica they approached Germany with their request for extradition.
When a reliable source within the German Ministry of Justice tipped me off that the Germans would arrest me the next morning when I reported to the Frankfurt police I knew that once sent to Japan, I would not be leaving for a very long time. Thus I made the decision to depart Germany.

I was also sent a copy of the Japanese request by this German source, and the entire case by Japan is based upon accusations against me by Peter Bethune.

This was the second unforeseen incident.

During Operation Waltzing Matilda (2009-2010), the Ady Gil, skippered by Pete Bethune, was deliberately rammed and sliced in half by the Shonan Maru No. 2. Pete Bethune decided to board the Shonan Maru No. 2 to confront the Japanese captain. In one of the episodes of Whale Wars, I advise Bethune not to board the vessel. His reply was that it was what he needed to do, it was his ship and he had the right to demand that the Japanese captain answer for the destruction of the boat. Bethune said he would take complete responsibility for his actions and thus he boarded the vessel with his own Jet Ski and assisted by his own crewmember.

Bethune was taken to Japan and instead of taking full responsibility for the decision he made, he accused me of ordering him to board the Shonan Maru No. 2. This was a deal he made with the prosecutor in return for a suspended sentence.  Our legal team has documented evidence of this deal.

My critics can say what they like but I think that any objective review of the facts within the context of our history will show that these demands for my extradition are politically motivated and not based on a proper legal investigation. Everything that happened during the Costa Rican incident was documented by independent filmmaker Rob Stewart for the making of the film, Sharkwater. Everything that has occurred with reference to Japanese whaling operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was documented for the Animal Planet program Whale Wars and in the film, At the Edge of the World. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society operates overtly and above board. Everything we do is documented.

For those critics who say that I should therefore submit myself to Costa Rica or Japan if I have nothing to hide I can only say that would be an option if allowed the opportunity for a fair and impartial trial. I do not believe that either country would give me a fair and impartial trial and even if acquitted by a Costa Rican court, they would then turn me over to Japan. Japan is not seeking justice, they are seeking revenge.

What we have here is a Japanese captain having completely destroyed a 1.5 million dollar vessel, injuring a cameraman and almost killing six crewmembers. The crew was recruited by Pete Bethune to help man his vessel, the Ady Gil, and were not Sea Shepherd crewmembers, but Sea Shepherd still worked with them to try to stop the Japanese whalers and Sea Shepherd rescued them when their ship was rammed and destroyed.  Note that Pete Bethune was not a Sea Shepherd Captain either. In fact, I have no doubt that had a Sea Shepherd Captain been in command of the Ady Gil that day, the collision would have been prevented altogether.  But that was not the case and the collision occurred, yet the Captain of the Shonan Maru No. 2 has not even been subjected to questioning over this incident. This in contrast to charges against me that do not even involve activities by myself based solely on the accusations of a man who made a deal with the Japanese in return for a suspended sentence.

With regard to Costa Rica, the courts have seen the evidence and questioned me and the witnesses and gave me a clearance to depart Costa Rica in 2002 and then revived the charges a decade later at the same time that a meeting took place between President Chinchilla of Costa Rica and the Prime Minister of Japan.

Other incidents by Japan have also not been investigated including the ramming of the Bob Barker by one of the harpoon vessels, and the collisions with the harpoon vessels and the Steve Irwin when the whalers attempted to force the Sea Shepherd vessel away from blocking the stern slipway of the Nisshin Maru.

For myself, I have to weigh the best course of action within the context of our overall strategy to defend and protect the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. If I surrender myself to Japan and/or Costa Rica I will not be in a direct command position to intervene against the Japanese whale poachers in Antarctic waters. I can coordinate the campaign from a land base or from onboard ship but it will not be possible to do so as a prisoner of the Japanese. Operation Zero Tolerance must be my primary concern and it is towards launching that campaign that I have decided to dedicate myself. If detained prior to the launch, the campaign will proceed under the directions given through the campaign chain of command. After the campaign if the legal issues remain outstanding I will address them directly at a time of my choosing with guidance from our legal team.

Another bit of misinformation is that I am fugitive from justice. I am not, and it is not a crime for anyone to work with or assist me. It is a complicated case, but I am not wanted outside of Japan, Costa Rica and Germany. There is no arrest warrant for me outside of these three countries and with regard to Germany, I have not broken any German law. Skipping bail is not a crime in Germany independent of the charge that was the cause of my being detained.

Presently I am in a place where I cannot be touched by the Interpol “red” notice and our legal team is working on exposing the local warrants from Costa Rica and Japan as being politically motivated with the objective of having Interpol disregard them. I believe that any impartial review of the evidence will exonerate me and it is best to have this evidence reviewed with impartiality rather than to throw myself at the mercy of courts where the verdict has already been determined.

From the beginning of this campaign to oppose the Japanese whale poachers in the Southern Ocean I was well aware that there were extreme risks involved. In addition to operating in the most hostile marine environment on the planet we were also aware that we were engaging one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations.
Despite this, every year we have gotten stronger and the whaling fleet has become weaker. And most importantly our efforts to defend the whales, to save their lives has increased dramatically to the point where the Japanese have failed for two years in a row to kill more than 70% of their no longer defenseless victims.

And thus we come down to the showdown and the reason we call this Operation Zero Tolerance. Our goal this year is to achieve zero kills and we will do all within our power to make that goal a reality. It is expected that the Japanese will do whatever they can to stop us and one of their tactics is to eliminate me as the leader of this campaign. They may or may not do so but either way they cannot stop the passion of my officers and crew who will stand with me or who will stand if need be, without me. But stand they will and our ships will once more engage these ruthless killers on the high seas to shield the gentle giants from their merciless harpoons.

If I am captured and politically crucified before this campaign all I can say is that this has always been for me a possibility and the Japanese will find that I am not as meek and unprepared as their previous prisoner. The loss of my personal freedom or even my life will be a fair price for achieving the objective of realizing the security of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. And with or without me that goal will be realized because we have something the Japanese whalers will never have. That is an absolute passionate respect for life and for maintaining the integrity of the Sanctuary. They are motivated by greed. We are motivated by love, and love and respect for life will always triumph over greed and death.

To all of our supporters worldwide – thank you. Your support gives us the means to go forth, where we need to go to fight this battle. Thank you also to our crew of Cove Guardians who have begun their six months in Taiji, Japan to defend the dolphins. Thank you to our crew in Africa defending the seals, to our crew in the Galapagos defending those enchanted isles, to our crew in the Mediterranean defending the endangered Bluefin tuna, our crews in the South Pacific defending sharks and coral reefs and to all those Sea Shepherd warriors initiating fundraising, public awareness and activist campaigns for oceanic species worldwide.

I am honored to work with each and every one of you. Together we are a force that has demonstrated and will continue to demonstrate that we can make a difference, and that no matter what the obstacles or how impossible the mission, we will not back down. Martin Sheen once told me that when someone accused him of supporting a lost cause that “lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for.” Martin, myself, and all of our crew are united in this belief that the impossible can become possible. And it is the passion, courage, imagination and resourcefulness of my incredible crew that will win this fight for the whales and for the oceans.

I’m proud of them all and most honored to have served this cause to protect our oceans, for the one most basic of truths is this:  If the oceans die, we die! It is as simple as that and, thus, to me, there is no cause more important.

Source: Sea Shepherd

SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras express our sincere condolences to Captain Paul Watson.

My Brother Stephen

BY CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON

Stephen Watson. Photo: Paul Everest/London

Community NewsMy brother Stephen Michael Watson died on August 29th in the same hospital in St. Stephen, New Brunswick in which he was born in 1958, the same hospital where our mother Annamarie died in 1964. He was the fifth of seven children and the first of us to pass away.

He was also the most beloved. The gentlest of all the children and also the most talented. His art was original, unique, vibrant, intuitively connected to the reality of our planet and the contradictions of humanity relative to the promise and the beauty of this ocean world we are blessed to be a part of.

The grandson of a great Danish Canadian artist Otto Larsen Sumner, he alone of all of us inherited the extraordinary ability to splash his visions upon canvas and as an artist he was never interested in commercializing his creations. He made them available to average people and he donated them to charitable organizations including quite few for Sea Shepherd fundraising events.

Stephen worked for years in the food industry as a buyer and what he saw and what he learned converted him to organic veganism.

My brother was devoted to Sea Shepherd and for years hosted fundraisers in Toronto and London, Ontario. His eldest son Shawn first joined the crew of the Sea Shepherd II when he was fourteen on our drift net campaigns. His youngest daughter Hillary will soon be joining the crew of the Steve Irwin. Stephen himself participated in an important but legal secret mission for Sea Shepherd and was instrumental in its success.

Stephen’s courage in the face of his own mortality has been inspiring. He was positive and he was hopeful, even speaking happily of the art show he was planning in London for next summer and the ideas he had for paintings for that event.

Recently in June, Stephen hosted a Sea Shepherd event in London, Ontario that he had been working on for many months. I was looking forward to seeing him and many of my family then, but Germany refused to allow me to attend. Our appeal to the German Minister of Justice to allow me to see him in July after he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor was refused. Apparently the bogus accusations of ruthless Costa Rican shark-finners provoked more sympathy from her. But Stephen understood, and when I left Germany he asked only one thing of me and that was, if he died before the next campaign to the Southern Ocean, would I take his ashes to Antarctica.

I intend to do so.

My heart reaches out from my present odyssey to Stephen’s wife Renee, his daughters Lea and Hillary and his sons Shawn and Garrett. They were all with him when he left us along with my sister Sharyn and youngest sister Rosemarie. They held a wake for him overlooking the St. Croix River as the great Fundy tide receded out to the immortal sea, the ocean of life that Stephen loved and so lovingly honoured with his art.

My brother was a warrior whose path was the way of the artist. I have always been proud of him and my love for him is as eternal as the love both of us had for nature and all her living treasures.

In many ways the man who was born and died in St. Stephen was himself a saint as a kind and gentle lover of animals, of the environment, of beauty and creativity, as a loving husband and devoted father and a loyal brother to my sisters and me.

He is missed and always will be so.

“Humpbacks” by Stephen Watson

Source: Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd using unmanned aircrafts in an attempt to document the Namibian seal slaughter at Cape Cross

Sea Shepherd Aerial Drone to Monitor Namibia Seal Slaughter

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society undertook a dangerous campaign in Namibia last year, in an attempt to document the seal hunt at Cape Cross, a tourist spot and a designated seal reserve. Their operation was shown on Animal Planet’s special, “Seal Wars.” This year, their land-based team, O.R.C.A.Force, has returned to the Namibian desert with some new tricks up their sleeves.

According to Sea Shepherd, the quota for this year’s cull is 90,000 baby seals, a slaughter that they call “one of the biggest marine wildlife crimes known to man.” O.R.C.A.Force activists have reportedly crossed into Namibia secretly and carrying high-tech equipment. ”Last year a government official called us ‘Enemies of the State’ for interfering with their commercial sealing operation. That statement made us even more determined to come back and bring an end to the slaughter of the endangered cape fur seals,” said O.R.C.A.Force director Laurens de Groot.

Despite increased armed security around the Cape Cross seal colony and a navy vessel patrolling  the coast, Sea Shepherd remains in an undisclosed location in the desert, staying in during the hot days and working at night. The team plans to obtain footage of the gruesome slaughter. To do this, they are now using unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) or drones. The organization reports the first-ever flight of a UAV over the Cape Cross colony during the seal hunt season. Along with Sea Shepherd campaign veterans, two UAV experts have joined the campaign.

de Groot says, “It‘s an absolute privilege to work with such a great team. The aviators provide exceptional skills. They look at anything and immediately start wondering how they can make it fly. It’s like they’ve thrown Charles Lindbergh, the Wright brothers, and MacGyver in a magic hat and pulled out these two world-class experts.”

The test flight was a success, but the UAV is going up against strong winds and blowing sand as it makes the 7 mile flight. Sea Shepherd also says that the UAV was homemade on a small budget. The pilot, referred to as “Mr. Biggles,” says “We’re making the impossible possible in this remote place, far away from electricity or other resources that we generally need to make something fly. But I’m convinced we can do it again, this time with cameras.”

Source: ecorazzi

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 

 

Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras

Selvavidasinfronteras.wordpress.com

Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Pieter Jan Brouwer

Assistant: Emilia Romero

The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.

 

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~ by FSVSF Admin on 3 September, 2012.

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