Greenpeace Changes It’s History to Deny Captain Paul Watson as Co-Founder
Greenpeace Attempts to Make Captain Paul Watson “Disappear”
Greenpeace Meets George Orwell: Greenpeace Rewrites History
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson, Greenpeace Co-Founder
Greenpeace co-founders Paul Watson and Robert Hunter blockade the sealing ship, Arctic Endeavor, Labrador 1976
New revised caption:
Greenpeace founder Bob Hunter and early activist Paul Watson protest the Canadian seal hunt.
Greenpeace co-founders Paul Watson and
Robert Hunter blockade the sealing ship,
Arctic Endeavor, Labrador 1976
Greenpeace Attempts to Make Captain Paul Watson “Disappear”
Greenpeace has become very angry with Sea Shepherd and myself because of Sea Shepherd interventions against illegal Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean and illegal tuna fishing in the Mediterranean and because of criticisms of Greenpeace ineffectiveness. In fact, Greenpeace has become so angry that it has now posted on its website that I am no longer to be regarded as a co-founder of Greenpeace. They now classify me simply “as an early member.”
This means that a bunch of people who were not around at the time, and many of whom had not even been born, have decided to rewrite Greenpeace history. As a result, the Greenpeace website has officially removed me from the list of Greenpeace founders.
Greenpeace has torn a page out of the old Russian Bolshevik manual on media relations and has chosen to simply re-write its own history. I imagine I will be deleted from early photographs next.
You would think that if I were not a founder, they would simply sue me for saying that I am, but the problem with that course of action is that the truth would be my defense, and the evidence would shrivel their revisionism on the vine.
It is really very amusing. Apparently, I have become such a threat to the bureaucrats in charge of what has become one of the world’s largest feel-good organizations that they felt motivated to deny my role as a founder of the organization that now pays their salaries.
They did this once before in the Netherlands in 1997 when I was temporarily jailed for my role in sinking a Norwegian whaling ship. However at that time, my fellow Greenpeace co-founder, friend, and first Greenpeace President, Robert Hunter, came to Amsterdam to hold a media conference to defend my position as a legitimate co-founder of Greenpeace.
Bob Hunter passed away in 2005, so he can’t do anything to counter their revised revisionist statements a second time. Other co-founders like Ben Metcalfe, Irving Stowe, Dr. Lyle Thurston, and Captain John Cormack also have died since. But Bobbi Hunter, Rod Marining, David Garrick, Paul Spong, Rex Weyler and even Patrick Moore are alive, and Greenpeace has not quoted one of them as saying I am not a Greenpeace co-founder, nor has it produced a single document to back up its accusation. The best history of Greenpeace ever written, entitled Greenpeace by Rex Wyler, and of course Bob Hunter’s legendary book Rainbow Warriors both attest to my role as a co-founder.
Below is the statement on the Greenpeace web site concerning my newly revised history. I have elected to make comments on their statements so as to correct the record. Initially, I ignored this, but too many comments have been made in the media citing this page as “evidence” that I am not a Greenpeace co-founder. I thus have no choice but to defend my position on this.
However to really get to the bottom of this, I am personally offering 25,000 Euros to any person, Greenpeace member, journalist, or lay person who can provide the proof to back up this ridiculous revisionism by Greenpeace. If anyone can prove that I am not a founding Greenpeace member, than I shall pay 25,000 Euros from my own pocket.
Not that I have anything to worry about, since the proof to back up this absurd accusation from Greenpeace does not exist, but for those who doubt and wish to back up their doubts with evidence, the reward is on the table.
So here are my remarks in response to this drivel on the Greenpeace website.
Greenpeace: Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace: some facts.
Paul Watson: Stating that something is a fact does not necessarily mean it is a fact.
Greenpeace: Paul Watson is the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and an early member of Greenpeace. Over the last few years, Paul has become extremely critical of Greenpeace in the press and at his website. The information below is provided as a service to our supporters to get a few facts out on the table about Paul’s history with Greenpeace and the nature of our disagreements.
Paul Watson became active with Greenpeace in 1971 as a member of our second expedition against nuclear weapons testing in Amchitka, and went on to participate in actions against whaling and the killing of harp seals. He was an influential early member but not, as he sometimes claims, a founder.
Paul Watson: I was on the list for the 1st crew on the first ship, but was assigned to the Greenpeace Too. It was the Greenpeace Too that was on site when the test occurred. In 1972, we changed the name of the Don’t Make a Wave Committee to the Greenpeace Foundation. I was one of the original directors of the Greenpeace Foundation from the very day of this incorporation.
I became active in October 1969 when I attended the first protest against nuclear testing at Amchitka organized by the Sierra Club and the Quakers. I was a member of the Sierra Club at the time. This protest led to the first meetings and subsequent meetings of the Don’t Make a Wave Committee at the Unitarian Church at 49th and Oak Street in Vancouver. It was in 1970 when we launched the idea to take a ship to the test site in the Aleutians. We worked throughout 1970 and 1971 to raise funds for this campaign. We held a concert with Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Phil Ochs to raise the money to charter the first boat. I hosted Phil Ochs at my house.
At one of the early meetings, someone left the meeting and flashed a V peace sign and said “peace”. Bill Darnell responded and said “make that a green peace.” Robert Hunter flashed on that as the name for the boat and thus the boat Greenpeace and the Greenpeace Too came before the organization named Greenpeace.
I was the youngest member of the Don’t Make a Wave Committee in 1970 and participated as a crew-member on the first Greenpeace campaign to oppose nuclear testing at Amchitka. Greenpeace states that it was the second expedition, but both the Greenpeace and the Greenpeace Too were part of the same expedition. I was on theGreenpeace Too, the ship that was in the Aleutians when the bomb went off. The first ship had already returned. When Greenpeace was officially registered as the Greenpeace Foundation in 1972, I was one of the signatory founding directors. I was also one of the eight people who established Greenpeace International in 1979. In 1972, Robert Hunter’s membership number was # 000, Roberta Hunter’s membership was #001, and mine was #007. I’ve still got the card. I was in fact the youngest founding member of Greenpeace. I was 18 when I attended the demonstration at the border in 1969 and 20 when we sailed to oppose the bomb in 1971. I do find it amusing that some of the Greenpeacers today who accuse me of not being a founder of the organization were not even born at the time.
I like how they go on to say that I participated in the actions against whaling and the killing of harp seals when in fact Robert Hunter, Paul Spong, and I initiated the anti-whaling campaign, and I personally initiated the anti-sealing campaign along with David Garrick. I was first officer on the 1st and 2nd Greenpeace campaigns to protect whales in 1975 and 1976, and I was the expedition leader for the seal campaigns of 1976 and 1977.
In September 1979, I was one of the eight signatory founders of Greenpeace International. Interesting, since this was two years after Greenpeace claims I was dismissed from the organization for advocating “violent” tactics.
A little more background on the first Greenpeace voyages:
The voyage of the Greenpeace Too, the ship that I was on, was not a 2nd expedition. It was part of the 1st expedition. The Phyllis Cormack took a crew of 13 to the Aleutians. After a month, they returned, and they were relieved by the 35 crew on the Greenpeace Too. I was one of the crew. It was our ship that was on site when the underground bomb was detonated. In fact, Rod Marining, Chris Bergthorson, and myself were the only co-founders near Amchitka that day. Although I was active with the Don’t Make a Wave Committee in 1969, Greenpeace now claims I was active in Greenpeace in 1971. This was the year of the first voyage of which I was an active crewmember, but Greenpeace did not actually exist until 1972 when the name Don’t Make a Wave Committee was changed to the Greenpeace Foundation.
Greenpeace: He was expelled from the leadership of Greenpeace in 1977 by a vote of 11 to one (only Watson himself voted against it).
Paul Watson: I was in fact never expelled from Greenpeace. I was voted off the Board of Directors in a motion tabled by Patrick Moore who opposed my aggressive opposition to baby seal killers. The underlying reason for this was I was a threat to his taking over the leadership of Greenpeace from Bob Hunter. I was free to continue to work with Greenpeace, but I chose not to. I was indeed voted off the Greenpeace Board, but I resigned voluntarily from Greenpeace. Greenpeace states this above when they say I was expelled from the leadership (meaning the Board). They do not say that I was expelled from Greenpeace. In fact, I remain a lifetime member of Greenpeace, unless they have now revoked my lifetime membership.
Greenpeace: Bob Hunter (one of Greenpeace’s early leaders, after whom a Sea Shepherd vessel was named) described the event in his book, the Greenpeace Chronicles:
“No one doubted his [Watson’s] courage for a moment. He was a great warrior brother. Yet in terms of the Greenpeace gestalt, he seemed possessed by too powerful a drive, too unrelenting a desire to push himself front and center, shouldering everyone else aside He had consistently gone around to other officees, acting out the role of mutineer. Everywhere he went, he created divisiveness We all felt we’d got trapped iin a web no one wanted to see develop, yet now that it had, there was nothing to do but bring down the axe, even if it meant bringing it down on the neck of our brother.”
Paul Watson: Bob did indeed write those words, and later he left Greenpeace to sail with me on my ships, and he wrote many positive things about Sea Shepherd and myself in books like Red Blood and in his columns. He was a lifelong friend and comrade, and he and his wife Bobbi put up their house as collateral to help me finance the purchase of the Sea Shepherd II. But it should be noted that Bob used the term “brother” in that excerpt from the book. Why? Because I was not just anyone. I was an original co-founder and original crewmember. That was why Bob said it was a tough decision. The reason I was rebelling was because Patrick Moore had seized control of Greenpeace and that disturbed me. My concerns were realized years later. Patrick now works as a lobbyist and public relations flak for the logging industry, the mining industry, the salmon farmers, the chlorine industry, and President George Bush appointed him to promote the nuclear industry.
Robert Hunter did not write this in a book entitled Greenpeace Chronicles. He wrote it in a book entitled Warriors of the Rainbow. It is interesting that later, Robert Hunter told me that I was right in going the direction that I did, and he became a Sea Shepherd activist and crewmember sailing with us on numerous occasions between 1988 and 2001. Bob and Bobbi Hunter even lent me funds to help purchase the first Sea Shepherd vessel. Bob later told me and wrote in his books that it was a positive thing that I had left Greenpeace to pursue a different path. Greenpeace never named a ship after Robert Hunter, but Sea Shepherd did.
Greenpeace describes Robert Hunter as one of Greenpeace’s “early leaders”. This certainly diminishes Bob Hunter’s incredible contributions to Greenpeace. The fact is that Robert Hunter is “the” founding father of Greenpeace. If not for Robert Hunter, Greenpeace would have expired as an organization in 1974. It was Hunter’s vision, drive, and determination that placed Greenpeace in the position to become a worldwide force to defend the environment.
Most of these people re-writing the Greenpeace history today never met Robert Hunter or myself and have no first-hand knowledge of the early days of Greenpeace.
A more accurate history of Greenpeace can be found in the book Greenpeace by Rex Wyler, who first served with Greenpeace on the 1975 campaign to protect the whales alongside Robert Hunter and myself.
Greenpeace: Confusion: Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd
Watson founded his own group, Sea Shepherd, in 1977.
- in 1986, Sea Shepherd carried out an action against the Icelandic whaling station in Hvalfjoerdur and sank two Icelandic whaling vessels in Reykjavik harbor by opening their sea valves;
- in December 1992, Sea Shepherd sank the vessel Nybroena in port;
- Sea Shepherd claimed to have sank the Taiwanese drift net ship Jiang Hai in port in Taiwan and to have rammed and disabled four other Asian drift net ships;
- a Canadian court ordered Watson and his former ship, the Cleveland Armory, to pay a total of $35,000 for ramming a Cuban fishing vessel off the coast of Newfoundland in June 1993;
- in January 1994 the group severely damaged the whaling ship Senet in the Norwegian port of Gressvik.
Each of the whaling ships noted above was refloated and refitted for continued whaling.
Captain Paul Watson: Greenpeace only touched on a few of our actions but seems to give the impression they were of little consequence. Saying that the ships were damaged and then refloated is not exactly true. The two Icelandic whaling ships were refloated but never used again because all the equipment and electronics were destroyed. That hit cost the Icelanders $10 million and shut them down for a decade. Greenpeace did not mention the whaler Sierraor the two Spanish whalers sunk in 1981. All three of them never whaled again. Nor did the whaler Astrid or the South African whalers Susan and Theresa. They are incorrect on the fine. Sea Shepherd never paid a fine for ramming a Cuban trawler, and in fact, the court ruled that the trawler was not rammed at all – there was no evidence of any contact. The Norwegian whalers were repaired and refloated and the result was a 3000% increase on marine insurance premiums. Our campaigns to destroy illegal whalers have been very successful and very costly to the whalers.
Greenpeace: In a 2008 article in the New Yorker, Watson claims that Sea Shepherd has sunk ten ships since its founding, but the author of the article notes, with some skepticism, that she was unable to verify that number.
Captain Paul Watson: It’s hard to verify covert actions, but no one else claimed the sinkings. Sea Shepherd did. So if not us, then who? Greenpeace seems to want to condemn us for sinking whaling ships and also for not sinking whaling ships. The article was written by a man, not a woman as Greenpeace states above.
Greenpeace: Paul Watson’s and Sea Shepherd’s actions have sometimes been wrongly attributed to Greenpeace, often in an attempt by others to damage Greenpeace’s reputation for non-violence.
Captain Paul Watson: It concerns me that Greenpeace gets credit for our actions, but it may have something to do with Greenpeace running ads to coincide with our actions or immediately following our actions so as to capitalize on the publicity. I don’t see how being accused of stopping a whaling activity can damage the reputation of an organization that claims to defend whales.
Greenpeace: Greenpeace has never sunk a whaling ship.
Captain Paul Watson: No indeed they have not. Greenpeace takes pictures and videos of whales dying, and Greenpeace has failed to save a single whale. Sea Shepherd saved 528 whales in 2010, 305 whales in 2009, some 500 in 2008, another 500 in 2007, and 83 in 2006. We also ended the careers of numerous whaling ships saving many thousands of whales. Sea Shepherd proudly claims credit for sinking whaling ships, and we are also proud of the fact that we have never injured a single person.
Greenpeace: Some anti-environmentalists try to use the fact that an extreme minority in the environmental movement resorts to force and sabotage to brand the movement as a whole as “terrorist.” One such attempt has been specifically condemned by a Norwegian court.
Captain Paul Watson: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not a terrorist organization, and we have never been convicted of a single felony (unlike Greenpeace), and we have never had anyone seriously injured (unlike Greenpeace), and we have shut down numerous illegal whaling, sealing, and fishing operations (unlike Greenpeace). Sea Shepherd does not break laws, we enforce them. Greenpeace has had numerous felony convictions; Sea Shepherd has had none.
Greenpeace: In 1991, we had an agreement with Sea Shepherd that we would refrain from public criticism of one another. Today, many of Sea Shepherd’s fundraising communications and Paul Watson’s public communications are filled with attacks on Greenpeace, our methods, our activists, and our supporters. They are often peppered with inaccuracies and outright untruths. Paul Watson is still fighting a one-sided battle that was over for Greenpeace in 1977.
Captain Paul Watson: I am not aware of any such agreement, but I think it would be a good idea. What Greenpeace describes as attacks by Sea Shepherd are in fact our response to their accusations against us. I do not take accusations of terrorism lightly, and I do not agree that they should raise money to send ships to Antarctica when they do not do so. In my book, that is stealing money from the public. I have written to Greenpeace every year asking for an agreement that will allow us to cooperate with each other, and every year Greenpeace has rejected my offer.
Greenpeace: In most cases, we simply don’t respond to Paul Watson’s criticism. While we don’t agree with Sea Shepherd’s methods, we also know that stories of divisiveness within the ranks of environmental groups distract from the real issues which unite us, and we prefer that when the media writes about whaling, they write about the real issues. Although Paul Watson is a vehement anti-whaling activist, he regularly lends his support to attacks on Greenpeace — some of them organized by the whalers themselves. 
Captain Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd has never participated in any campaign against Greenpeace organized by the whaling industry. This is a viciously false and misleading statement. What we have been critical of Greenpeace for is accusing us of violence, accusing us of being terrorists, and claiming credit for things that Sea Shepherd has accomplished. We also criticise Greenpeace for collecting money on issues they do not campaign against.
Greenpeace: Our commitment to non-violence: why we don’t cooperate?
Paul Watson has made many public requests for Greenpeace to reveal the location of the whaling fleet or otherwise cooperate with Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean when the ships of both organizations have been there simultaneously.
Captain Paul Watson: We have always given Greenpeace the coordinates of the whaling fleets once we have found them. They have never returned the favour. It’s all academic now, because they no longer even send ships to intervene against whaling operations.
Greenpeace: We passionately want to stop whaling, and will do so peacefully. That’s why we won’t help Sea Shepherd. Greenpeace is committed to non-violence and we’ll never, ever, change that; not for anything. If we helped Sea Shepherd to find the whaling fleet we’d be responsible for anything they did having got that information, and history shows that they’ve used violence in the past, in the most dangerous seas on Earth. For us, non-violence is a non-negotiable, precious principle. Greenpeace will continue to act to defend the whales, but will never attack or endanger the whalers.
Captain Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd has never employed violence. We have never injured anyone ever. We have never committed or been conviccted of a felony ever. Dr. Martin Luthor King once saaid that violence cannot be committed against a non-sentient object. We have the support of the Dalai Lama. Greenpeace has worked with Earth First, a group that engages in sabotage of industrial equipment. Greenpeacers have committed and been convicted of felonies. Greenpeace has had crewmembers killed and injured. Sea Shepherd has not. Greenpeace defends the stealing of property from the mail. In fact, Greenpeace justifies its action and condemns ours, not on the basis of tactics, but on the basis of politics. By refusing to assist us on occasion, Greenpeace was responsible for the deaths of whales we could have saved, because whereas Greenpeace takes pictures, Sea Shepherd intervenes to protect lives.
Greenpeace: We differ with Paul Watson on what constitutes violence. He states that nobody has ever been harmed by a Sea Shepherd action. But the test of non-violence is the nature of your action, not whether harm results or not. There are many acts of violence — for example, holding a gun to someone’s head — which result in no harm. That doesn’t change their nature. We believe that throwing butryic acid at the whalers, dropping cables to foul their props, and threatening to ram them in the freezing waters of the Antarctic constitutes violence because of the potential consequences. The fact that the consequences have not been realized is irrelevant.
Captain Paul Watson: After three decades of operations, we have proven our expertise in getting results without causing injuries or committing felonies. The test of non-violence is consequences, and Sea Shepherd has exercised extreme caution to save lives without causing injury. We practise non-violence in the spirit of Hayagriva, the Buddhist idea of aggressive non-violence or the exercise of compassionate wrath. In others words, intimidation without injury for the purpose of achieving enlightenment. The Dalai Lama is a Sea Shepherd supporter, and I don’t think he would be supporting us if we were a violent organization as Greenpeace constantly accuses us of being. By the above logic, Greenpeace, I repeat, is also guilty of violence, because by constantly accusing Sea Shepherd of being violent, they are providing justification to the whalers to respond violently against us.
Greenpeace: In addition to being morally wrong, we believe the use of violence in protection of whales to be a tactical error. If there’s one way to harden Japanese public opinion and ensure whaling continues, it’s to use violent tactics against their fleet. It’s wrong because it puts human lives at risk, and it’s wrong because it makes the whalers stronger in Japan.
Captain Paul Watson: These modern Greenpeace bureaucrats are stating here that all the original Greenpeace co-founders who have served with Sea Shepherd are morally wrong. In other words, the men and women who created Greenpeace are being judged as morally wrong by upstarts who are being paid to work for Greenpeace today. None of these people were there to construct the foundation of the organization that now pays them their comfortable wages. I never worked for money for Greenpeace a day in my life. I was a volunteer, and my lifetime membership number is 007. I am the 8th founding member of Greenpeace, because Bob Hunter was 000 and Bobbi Hunter is 001. The bottom line is that Sea Shepherd is speaking the language the Japanese whalers understand economics. We have negated their proffits for seven years and that will end whaling – not the hanging of banners and the stealing of whale meat from the Japanese mail.
Greenpeace: We work with many other groups whose methods differ from ours, and we know the power of cooperation among groups with a common objective but diverse ways of working. For decades, we have had productive working relationships with the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Friends of the Earth, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Sierra Club, Environmental Investigative Agency, and a host of other groups dedicated to whale conservation. We would only be willing to cooperate with Sea Shepherd under the condition that it would not facilitate endangering human life.
Captain Paul Watson: They neglected to mention they have worked with Earth First, an organization that has undertaken industrial sabotage. Sea Shepherd has never endangered any person’s life. Greenpeace has had crewmembers killed and injured.
Greenpeace: To give one example, in 2005/2006, Sea Shepherd attempted to snarl the propeller of the Nisshin Maru with a rope and cable, as reported on their own website:
Two of our three zodiacs were equipped with devices we had made to foul their propeller; basically two buoys connected with steel cable and rope that we would place in front of their ship in hopes that the Maru would run it over, it would pass underneath their hull and into their propeller at the stern of their ship causing their ship to slow down dramatically or be stopped completely. The Maru was running at full speed away from the Farley. Both zodiacs deployed their devices repeatedly. None seemed to work against the goliath Nisshin Maru ship…
Running out of options and having lost both of our propeller fouling devices, all hope seemed lost of slowing the Maru…
Disabling a ship at sea in the Antarctic, regardless of how much one may object to its activities, is not only a callous act of disregard for human life — it’s courting an environmental disaster in one of the most fragile environments in the world.
Captain Paul Watson: We use intimidation because we know that prop foulers will not cause permanent damage to the ships, but it will slow them down enough to not be able to hunt whales. We are aware that the Japanese vessels have cutting blades on their props.
Greenpeace: Such tactics are not only dangerous to the whalers, they are dangerous to the cause of stopping Japanese whaling. Our political analysis is unequivocal: if Japanese whaling is to be stopped, it will be stopped by a domestic decision within the Japanese government to do so. That’s why we have invested heavily in a Greenpeace office in Japan and efforts to speak directly to the Japanese public — 70 percent of whom are unaware that whaling takes place in the Southern Ocean at all. A majority of those who are aware of the whaling program, oppose it. Support for whaling in Japan has been steadily falling for the last decade. Consumption of whale meat is in decline, the cost of the program to taxpayers is being questioned by the business community, and the political costs of the program have created opposition in the Foreign Affairs department in Japan. All of this progress could be undone by a nationalist backlash. By making it easy to paint anti-whaling forces as dangerous, piratical terrorists, Sea Shepherd could undermine the forces within Japan which could actually bring whaling to an end.
A few facts
Captain Paul Watson: Because of our dramatic campaigns in the Southern Ocean, the Japanese people are now very much aware of the activities of their illegal whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. That is education, and we have an international television show to get our message across. Convincing the Japanese public to oppose whaling will not be guaranteed to change anything. The majority of Canadians are opposed to the annual commercial seal slaughter, yet the seal hunt continues to be subsidized by the Canadian government. Greenpeace has made very little progress with their public education programs, including programs where Greenpeacers publicly ate whale meat to demonstrate they were respectful of Japanese culture.
Greenpeace: We’ve got fairly thick skins here at Greenpeace. When you challenge powerful forces, you need to be ready to put up with accusations of ulterior motives and hidden agendas. What’s unfortunate is when we have to spend time countering friendly fire — attacks by an organization that shares the same goals as we do. We don’t mind robust disagreements, but we do object to falsehoods.
Captain Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd does not share the same goals with Greenpeace. We are dedicated to ending whaling. Greenpeace is not. Greenpeace supported the recent compromise that would have allowed legal whaling by Japan. Greenpeace does not support ending the commercial seal hunt in Canada or the dolphin slaughter in Japan or the killing of pilot whales in the Faeroe Islands. Greenpeace does not send ships to the Southern Ocean, yet they continue to raise money for their campaign which have been reduced to “saving” whales on a Southern Ocean whale defense video game.
Greenpeace: As the New Yorker article on Paul Watson noted, in his book “Earthforce!”:
Watson advises readers to make up facts and figures when they need to, and to deliver them to reporters confidently, “as Ronald Reagan did.”
Captain Paul Watson: This statement is taken out of context. I was explaining that modern media is manipulated by politicians and corporations to manipulate the truth and that, yes, Ronald Reagan made up facts to support his agenda, as do almost all politicians. This is classic McLuhanism and an understanding of modern media strategies. Greenpeace does it all the time, by the way, as do most other organizations, political parties, and corporations. What was once a lie is now merely called a spin, and Greenpeace has become the master of the spin. I may be guilty of this also, but I am an amateur compared to the Greenpeace media department.
Greenpeace: Paul Watson has claimed that Greenpeace goes to the Antarctic merely to film whales being killed, to wave banners and to bear witness to their deaths — but does nothing to save them.
This is untrue.
Greenpeace saves whales
Greenpeace has directly saved the lives of countless whales over more than three decades by maneuvering our boats between the harpoon and the whale. Many of us have risked our lives in those actions from Iceland to the Antarctic. But, while we consider it acceptable to risk our own lives for the whales, we don’t believe in risking anyone else’s.
Captain Paul Watson: They still use images of Bob Hunter and myself in zodiacs blocking harpoons from 1975 and 1976. They forget that the legacy that has enabled Greenpeace to become what it is today was laid down by myself and others who are no longer in Greenpeace. In fact there is not a single living founding member of Greenpeace active in Greenpeace today. We created the tactics they are bragging about. But they have not prevented the killing of any whales. The Japanese whalers slaughtered whales in front of Greenpeace as the Greenpeacers held banners and staged photo ops that I call ocean posing.
Greenpeace: In 2006, a harpoon was fired over one of our inflatables and the line fell on the boat, pulling one crew member into the freezing waters of the Antarctic. According to records kept by the whalers (we were too busy to keep records), we interfered with them 26 times in 2006. Shortly after sighting us, the whalers departed at high speed — their own records show they lost nine days of hunting due to interference with their operations. The whalers rammed our ships twice, hit one of our crew members with a metal pole, and used a high-powered water cannon against us. Despite this, they came in 82 whales short of their quota. In 2008, the whalers ran from us for 14 consecutive days, days that were lost to them for hunting. Since they need to catch an average of around 9-10 whales a day to make their self-appointed quota, this action alone saved the lives of over 100 whales.
Captain Paul Watson: It is my opinion that they came 82 whales short of their quota because Sea Shepherd was chasing them continuously. They were not running from Greenpeace, they were running from Sea Shepherd. And falling in the water is no big deal when you are wearing a drysuit or a wet suit under a survival suit. We fall in the water all the time, but we don’t make a drama out of it. The high powered water cannon is easily avoided, but Greenpeace runs straight into it for the dramatic photo opportunity it provides. Posturing and posing and making whale snuff flicks is what they do, and they do it well, but it has not saved a single whale. It may be noticed that in previous years when Sea Shepherd was not chasing the whaling fleet, they made no such claims of successful interventions. I find it interesting that they claim they were too busy to keep records. That is what a logbook is for, and the officer of the watch has the responsibility to keep those records.
Greenpeace: Greenpeace works to save whales around the world, all year round, and with a variety of tactics.
Along with the Worldwide Fund for Nature, we were the primary advocates that created public pressure for the moratorium on commercial whaling which was agreed in 1982. That single piece of work has saved the lives of tens of thousands of whales and ended the whaling programs of the Soviet Union, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Spain.
We have undertaken political work to maintain support for the moratorium on commercial whaling and counter Japanese vote-buying schemes. There have been years in which the conservation majority in the International Whaling Commission has hung by a thread, in one case by a single vote. By lobbying conservation-minded countries to join the International Whaling Commission and successfully pressuring countries like Denmark to change their policies toward conservation, our millions of supporters and activists have worked quietly behind the scenes to save whales.
Captain Paul Watson: I was a part of that pressure to create the moratorium as were many others. It was not a Greenpeace achievement, it was an anti-whaling movement achievement. Sea Shepherd helped Ecuador to join the IWC and delivered a vote for the whales. And Denmark changing their policies? – I think not. Denmark is a major advocate of whaling and thousands of pilot whales are killed each year in the Danish Faeroe Islands where Sea Shepherd has intervened four times and Greenpeace never has, because they said that their supporters in Denmark did not support interference with their culture. Apparently, interfering with everyone else’s culture is okay for the Danes.
What Greenpeace forgets is that there are very few persons who have been consistent activists for the whales from 1974 until the present like I have. That is 37 years of defending the whales in every sea on the planet, yet they dismiss my experience and my persistence as something negative. I am merely doing today what I did when I was with Greenpeace three decades ago. Greenpeace changed. I did not. There is no other original Greenpeace activist alive that continues to confront the whalers.
Greenpeace: Working in Japan to stop whaling
Greenpeace has had an office in Japan since 1989. As a result of hard, steady work over the years we have succeeded in making whaling a subject of domestic debate in Japan where none has existed before. We’ve brought Japanese celebrities, musicians, and artists to speak out against whaling, exposed taxpayer-sponsored promotional efforts by the Japanese government — by exposing waste and corruption in the bureaucracy that supports whaling, we’ve generated criticism of whaling in some of Japan’s largest newspapers, and articles in the business press asking whether Japan should end its whaling program.
Captain Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd has been active in Japan since 1981, beginning with our efforts to free dolphins from the nets of their killers. Our efforts have actually saved lives. Greenpeace efforts have not made a dent in Japanese policies on whaling. Japanese businessmen understand profit and loss and have little use for sentimental campaigns. They simply do not care about cruelty issues, nor do they seem very concerned about conservation issues. Sea Shepherd speaks the one language they understand – profit and loss – and we have them on the ropes financially with a loss of profits for five years running.
Greenpeace: On May 15, 2008, Greenpeace Japan used undercover investigators and the testimony of informers to expose that large amounts of prime cut whale meat were being smuggled from the whaling ship Nisshin Maru disguised as personal baggage, labeled “cardboard” or “salted stuff” and addressed to the private homes of crewmembers. Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki intercepted one box out of four sent to one address, discovered it contained whale meat valued at up to US$3,000, and took it to the Tokyo public prosecutor.
Captain Paul Watson: Whaling is illegal, so I am at a loss as to what can be gained by exposing corruption inside an illegal industry. The only people concerned about the theft of whale meat are the whalers. This is like the FBI investigating the Mafia for the benefit of the Godfather. Stealing whale meat from the mail in Japan has nothing to do with stopping illegal whaling by the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica.
Greenpeace: Their public press conference drew national attention in Japan, and a promise by the public prosecutor to “fully investigate” the charges.
Instead, Junichi and Toru were arrested for stealing the box of whale meat, and the scandal investigation was dropped by the Tokyo public prosecutor’s office the same day; it was clear that the two events were connected, just as it is clear that both were politically motivated. Although Junichi and Toru had provided full cooperation to the police, it took some five weeks to make the arrests, and when they did, more than 40 officers raided the Greenpeace Japan office, with the media tipped off by police beforehand. The Greenpeace activists learned of their imminent arrest from the TV news the same day the embezzlement case was dropped.
Captain Paul Watson: The charges could indeed have been politically motivated, but Greenpeace put themselves into the position of being charged for theft. It was not a smart tactic. Strategy requires preparation. On the positive side, the case did attract attention to the issue of illegal whaling.
Greenpeace: The two activists now face up to ten years imprisonment. We consider them political prisoners, and believe that powerful forces have instrumented a crackdown aimed at discrediting Greenpeace in Japanese society. This means we’ve hit a nerve. We intend to put all our efforts into turning the tables, and putting the whaling interests on trial in the court of public opinion in Japan. We see the reaction of whaling interests as conforming perfectly to the way the most successful Greenpeace campaigns play out: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. Then you win.”
Captain Paul Watson: This is amusing, because that is exactly what Greenpeace has done with Sea Shepherd. First they ignored us, then they laughed at us, and then they attacked us. I remember Greenpeace leader David McTaggart once telling The Age newspaper when asked abut Sea Shepherd, “Sea Shepherd, never heard of them,” and then added, “they are irrelevant.” Japan does not need a campaign to discredit Greenpeace in Japan. They were discredited many years ago. They tried to make a mountain out of a molehill by saying they had to focus all of their energies on defending their two directors. This was simply a convenient excuse for not sending down a ship and crew to Antarctica. They could certainly afford to do both. Now that the men are free, Greenpeace still has no intention of returning to the Southern Ocean with a ship although they continue to raise money for that purpose. The two Greenpeace activists received suspended sentences.
Greenpeace: Greenpeace has too much money?
Watson likes to paint a picture of Greenpeace as enjoying vast riches, but in fact Greenpeace accepts no money from governments or corporations, and our resources are minuscule compared to the task before us. We rely almost entirely on the donations of nearly 3 million people worldwide, and we spend those hard-earned donations in ways that win campaigns for the environment.
Captain Paul Watson: This is not true that they have not accepted corporate or government funding. I was the dissenting vote in 1976 when Greenpeace accepted a large donation from Ed Daly of Air America also known as the C.I.A. airways. The donation came with the condition that Greenpeace continue to harass the Soviet whaling fleet and to not pursue the Japanese whaling fleet. This was in fact the beginning of my disagreements with the Greenpeace Board of Directors. Greenpeace also accepted a very large donation in the mid-eighties from the Soviet Union to sponsor a peace concert in Moscow. I notice that Greenpeace states they rely “almost entirely” on the donations of their members. That implies other sources of funding.
Greenpeace: To put our budget in perspective, in 2007 Exxon-Mobil generated more revenue in less than six hours than Greenpeace raised worldwide from its supporters for the entire year. Our annual donations are less than the value of seven days of the global value of the illegal forest industry, or three days of the subsidies to the global fisheries industry. The nuclear industry spends more money in advertising than Greenpeace International’s entire operating budget.
Captain Paul Watson: This is an absurd comparison, but it illustrates just how much money Greenpeace does raise. Exxon-Mobil generates an incredible amount of money in six hours and the amount of money given in subsidies to global fisheries worldwide is about $75 billion dollars so three days of subsidies is about $600 million dollars which is about twice Greenpeace’s actual budget. I don’t begrudge Greenpeace this budget, I only wish they used the funds more effectively.
Greenpeace: The full breakdown of what we raise, what we spend, and what we spend it on is released every year in our Annual Report.
Most importantly, Greenpeace gets results. In the three decades since our founding, we have combined our unique brand of non-violent direct action with political lobbying, scientific research, and public mobilization to bring an end to nuclear weapons testing, stop the dumping of hazardous waste at sea, secure the moratorium on commercial whaling, and win dozens of other significant steps toward our ultimate goal of a green and peaceful future for our planet.
Captain Paul Watson: There is no argument from me that Greenpeace has taken credit for much of this. And the fact is there are well intentioned dedicated Greenpeace activists on the ground doing good work, inspired by the cause. But I would compare it to the Catholic Church. There are thousands of dedicated and sincere Catholic priests and nuns working to help the poor all over the world but they are not the Pope. The institution of the Catholic church is rich, corrupt and powerful but this does not make their followers culpable. Greenpeace today sells ecological dispensation in the same way that Pope Rodrigo Borgia once sold dispensation into heaven. Greenpeace has become the world’s largest feel-good organization. Join Greenpeace and become part of the solution without having to change your life-style. It’s a growing business. There is the illusion that Greenpeace gets results and in some cases they do, but in reality there is little bang for the buck. Greenpeace has become a compromising organization.
Greenpeace: In Conclusion
Paul Watson is welcome to express his opinions about Greenpeace — as a more progressive environmental organization, we have a wide spectrum of detractors, and we welcome fair criticism. But, we expect fair debate to be based in fact, not falsehoods.
Captain Paul Watson: I am more than willing to cooperate with Greenpeace as long as they use the large sums of money they collect to defend whales to actually defend whales. As a co-founder of Greenpeace, I have to say I am proud of the idea called Greenpeace that we launched in the early Seventies. We saw it then as a movement and not as the corporation that it has become today. When Greenpeace stops referring to us as violent, then we will stop openly referring to them as ineffective. When Greenpeace stops referring to us as eco-terrorists, we will no longer openly accuse them of turning the environment into a marketable resource. When Greenpeace uses the money it has collected to save the whales to actually save the whales, then we will stop accusing them of fraud. And finally, if Greenpeace had not posted this fiction they call fact, I would not be having to post a response.
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