Captain Paul Watson: Interview With a Pirate tells it like it is

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      By Lamya Essemlali, with Paul Watson. Firefly Books, 264 pp, softcover

      Sea Shepherd Society founder Paul Watson has been on the receiving end of countless epithets since he burst into public prominence as a Vancouver-based Greenpeace activist more than 40 years ago.

      He’s been branded a terrorist and misanthrope, been accused of arrogance, and even been saddled with the label of cult leader.

      This is what Watson has come to expect after a career of disrupting the killing of whales, dolphins, bluefin tuna, seals, and other marine life.

      According to Lamya Essemlali, executive director of Sea Shepherd France, Watson is unfazed by the condemnations, which are as likely to come from high-ranking officials in environmental groups as from whaling-industry profiteers.

      “What can be perceived as arrogance is rooted in his extraordinary determination and the distance he puts between himself and any criticism or flattery,” Essemlali writes in Captain Paul Watson, a new book that profiles the eco-activist and outlines his views on a broad range of topics, including overpopulation, environmental tactics, veganism, myths about sharks, and the media.

      “It is very difficult to upset Paul,” Essemlali adds. “In fact, I would say that it is almost impossible. Indeed, he excels at interacting with groups of non-supporters, and such encounters highlight his debating skills.”

      Most of the chapters in Captain Paul Watson are arranged in a question-and-answer format, with each dealing with a specific subject, such as human beings’ war against nature. Throughout the book, Watson comes across as an extraordinarily thoughtful and uncompromising man who’s been far ahead of his time in understanding the consequences of unbridled poaching of the oceans.

      “We protect the interests of our clients,” Watson says at one point. “Our clients are not people; they are whales and other marine species that are exploited and exterminated to serve the cultural and economic interests of humans.”

      He claims that 90 percent of the fish in the oceans have been “exterminated”. In one chilling section, he declares that more species of plants and animals will disappear between 2000 and 2065 than were lost in the previous 65 million years. And the death of the oceans, he predicts, will lead to the death of life on Earth.

      This is just one reason why he’s adamantly opposed to eating seafood and why all the crew on Sea Shepherd Society vessels must eat vegan diets.

      “Nobody can legitimately claim to be a marine ecologist and conservationist while continuing to eat fish,” he declares. “It is the ultimate form of hypocrisy.”

      He’s particularly proud of the Sea Shepherd Society’s role in sinking half the docked Icelandic whaling fleet in 1986. He also gleefully recalls how he and two crew members, Peter Wolf and Jerry Dornan, used their boat in 1979 to ram the Sierra, which Watson accuses of illegally killing almost 25,000 whales. Explosives set by persons unknown later sent the Sierra to the bottom of Lisbon’s harbour. Less than three months later, two Spanish whaling ships met a similar fate.

      The upside of the question-and-answer approach is that it provides a completely unfiltered view into Watson’s mindset. The downside is that Essemlali mostly lobs softballs at the eco-pirate. But it still makes for compelling reading.

      And Watson certainly doesn’t hold back. He skewers Greenpeace as a “fraudulent organization” for collecting millions of dollars to save whales while not sending any ships to stop the Japanese hunt in Antarctica. He dismisses most politicians as “parasites”, claims that the Green party is “corrupted by anthropocentric values”, and maintains that Americans are governed by the oil companies.

      In his core, Watson believes there are too many humans on the planet. And there need to be a lot fewer of them for marine life to thrive. Hence, he’s called a misanthrope.

      An apt title might well have been The World According to Paul Watson. If nothing else, this book will force readers to reexamine how human beings are annihilating other species, particularly those that live in the sea.



      john zolis

      Apr 18, 2013 at 4:42pm

      "In one chilling section, he declares that more species of plants and animals will disappear between 2000 and 2065 than were lost in the previous 65 million years. And the death of the oceans, he predicts, will lead to the death of life on Earth." Yet we continue on our path like there isn't a problem how arrogant is that ?

      gary meachen (The Gazman)

      Apr 18, 2013 at 6:54pm

      The message to Paul is that the ground swell of activism is growing fast due to social media and the fast flow of information, the drawback is being reliant on power grids so this streaming can fail at any stage.Any power failure cannot stop the thought process of change which is spreading.
      On a not so profound note mate I'm writing a new song just for you and the sea shepherd supporters Regards Gaz


      Apr 19, 2013 at 2:06pm

      Thank you for the article and the book. Paul Watson is a Hero, and the world needs to know that we are killing most life on our beloved planet. Am especially impressed that all the Sea Shepherds are vegans, if we all were, well the planet would not be in such a mess.
      Also, the article mentions the sinking of whalers, but you do not mention that the French sank the Rainbow Warrior a few years back and Killed an activist!

      Martin Dunphy

      Apr 19, 2013 at 6:37pm

      You are correct, and many people probably don't know how the French covered up the illegal mission in another country's territory, denied involvement, and after two of the bumbling French agents/murderers were caught (by civilians, no less!), charged, and sentenced, France intervened, blackmailed New Zealand, and took the "prisoners" into its own "custody" on a tropical-paradise island. France then released them before their sentences had expired, promoted them, and pinned medals on their chests.
      Jacques Cousteau would have been proud.

      Helen Frederiksen

      Apr 20, 2013 at 10:01pm

      I think 'misanthrope' is a harsh description of Paul Watson. It means 'hater of mankind'. Where do folk come up with these weird derogatory descriptions. Because he refers to his clients as non-human, he is lambasted for being a conservationist/marine ecologist. I look forward to reading Paul's book.

      Stones Selwave

      Apr 21, 2013 at 12:55am

      Where to buy the book?


      Apr 27, 2013 at 10:32am

      Being a backer of the Sea Shepherds and their mission 100% all the way, I wish there was a way for them to escape the relying on fossil fuels (Read that: diesel to power the captain's fleet).

      Americans are indeed governed by the oil companies, since Exxon, is it, is now the biggest corporation in the world. It has become a question of which source will be the first to become "extinct."

      In the meantime, I continue to give my best hope and support to Captain Paul Watson and his crew to do what's right for the sake of the planet.

      Clint Ansell

      May 2, 2013 at 5:00pm

      Jo, Just think how much fuel will be saved when Sea Shepherd stops Japanese whale murdering, the death ship Nisshin Maru weighs 8000 tons, using 20 000 litres of fuel per day!! And thats just one of the whaling death fleets vessels.

      Leonard Green

      May 3, 2013 at 3:28am

      Clint, just think how much fuel is burned by the Japanese when they hunt whales in the North Pacific and Sea Shepherd does nothing to try and stop it. Sea Shepherd doesn't have the ability to stop the whaling fleet, if they ever stop it will be the whalers decision not Sea Shepherd. And think of how much less fuel would be used if they weren't being illegally harrassed by the Sea Shepherds.


      May 19, 2013 at 2:17am

      I don't how I would call myself; I think "VICTIM OF SEA SHEPHERDS/EARTHRACE BRAIN-WASHING" is a pretty good way of putting it! The “SHAME” I felt after I realized I was lead to believe,Paul Watson, Pete Bethune, Potts, Squirrel Boy (What’s his name?), Chuck Swift, & The rest them Eco-Terrorists look like Good-Do’ers! I finally woke and smelled the Mocha after 10 mins into a SSCS rally as they called it In San Francisco, Ca. In 2010. When I realized it was a Sea Shepherd Protest outside of a Japanese business that had “NOTHING TO DO WITH JAPANSES FOOD INDUSTERIES IN JAMPAN THAT SERVE WHALE AND DOLPHIN MEAT”. So, I grabbed my stuff and walked off in utter disgust that “I WAS LIED TOO”. To me lying to me is a Capital Offence! After that I would have nothing do with anyone from or supported Sea Shepherd or Earthrace or their people.

      I even supported them by buying their T-shirts and crap that was overpriced crap! The crap was donated to a local halfway house for troubled adults. I kept a SSCS shirt that has the Kangaroo on it and wrote “WHAT A JOKE!” And I wear it to my favorite Japanese when I’m Nomming down tasty Sushi! I will admit I “DID” buy Pete Bethune’s book, that after I saw it for sales at a local Dollar Tree for $1.00. So, for $1.00 I decided I would get it and I didn't highly of it,… It was poorly written!