Once again I'll come out and say that I oppose whaling in the Southern Ocean. I oppose all whaling. There is no place for it in the 21st Century, (or at least there shouldn't be). But Sea Shepherd is not the collection of environmental saints its own propaganda, which is regurgitated without question by a media that is not so much credulous as simply unprepared to give voice to legitimate questions about its actions, ethics and honesty (read below), would have us believe. Certainly nothing that comes out of the mouth of Paul Watson can be taken at face value.
One his own admission, he is more than prepared to lie to advance his cause. As Exhibit One I'd tender the clearly staged publicity stunt where he claimed to have been shot by the Japanese, only being saved by the bullet-proof vest he just happened to be wearing that morning! Any journalist with a brain and an ounce of scepticism would have been all over that one. But when was the last time you saw some foolish young reporter from Channel 9 or Channel 7 (or 10 or the ABC or the SBS etc etc) actually betray some research and ask Watson anything other than a fawning question that is little more than an invitation for him to get on his soapbox and sermonise?
Okay, we can't help cheering every time they prevent a harpoon being fired, but let's not pretend that these people are secular saints who can do no wrong and whose actions can never be questioned.
Also, that video was shot from Sea Shepherd sister craft the Bob Barker, moving from left to right across the path of those colliding ships. The angles you see aren’t taken from a static position. On Sunday, the New Zealand Herald editorialised: “Experts who looked at footage of the incident seem to agree that the Ady Gil is not blameless and may be mainly, if not entirely, to blame for what occurred.”
Video can be deceptive, much like Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson, who calls himself “captain” (and sometimes wears captain-style clothing) but doesn’t hold a sea captain’s license. A 2007 New Yorker profile of the publicity-addicted Canadian contains the following:
Watson believes that whales are smarter than people and that earthworms are more important; Watson claims that Sea Shepherd has sunk ten whaling vessels (the New Yorker could only count two); Watson has a “tendency to bend the truth” and a “willingness to risk lives or injury for his beliefs (or for publicity)”; Watson was thrown out of Greenpeace; Watson claims to have been tortured in Iran ("bamboo slivers under the fingernails and a few strokes with a lash"); Watson has “claimed responsibility for damage to ships that in fact was caused by accidents or by other activists”; in his book Earthforce!, Watson advises activists to simply make up facts when they need to; and Watson believes that “cancer is a cure to nature’s problems”.
When it comes to Watson and Sea Shepherd, it doesn’t really matter where you stand on the broader issue of whaling. These people are clown shoes, and they shouldn’t be given mainstream credibility just because they champion a cause many here feel for.