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EARTH WARRIOR -- The Captain Paul Watson Interview
By Claudette Vaughan. First published in Vegan Voice.

It is not a democracy at sea. It is often a case of life or death decision making. Captain Paul Watson has been at the helm of making those hard decisions for over 25 years. He is President and Founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and continues to spear-head non-compromising environmental direct action. He was once the cofounder of Greenpeace but left in 1977 because he felt the original goals of the organisation were being compromised. He felt there was a need to continue the direct-action conservation activities of an organisation that would enforce laws protecting marine wildlife on the high seas.

In 1977 Paul Watson founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organisation dedicated to research, investigation and enforcement of laws, treaties, resolutions and regulations established to protect marine wildlife worldwide.

His dedication has never wavered. He has hunted down, rammed and sank pirate whaler boats. He engineered in the scuttling of half the Spanish whaling ships in the eighties and organised an attack on the illegal whaling industry among many other successful direct actions. His compassionate credentials are impeccable. Environmentalists love him. His opponents hate him.

In a recent essay on "The Politic of Extinction - Remain a parasite OR become an Earth Warrior" he had this to say.

We are at the present time living in an age of mass extinction. Each year, more than 20,000 unique species disappear from this planet forever. This represents more than two species per hour. Species extinction is the fuel that supports the ever increasing progress of the machinery of civilisation.

Individual humans are for the most part insulated from the reality of species loss. Alienated from the natural world, guided by anthropocentric attitudes, the average human being is unaware and non-caring about the biological holocaust that is transpiring each and every day.

The facts are clear. More plant and animal species will go through extinction within our generation than have been lost through natural causes over the past two hundred million years. Our single human generation, this is, all people born between 1930 and 2010 will witness the complete obliteration of one third to one half of all the Earth's life forms, each and every one of them the product of more than two billion years of evolution. This is biological meltdown, and what this really means is the end to vertebrate evolution on planet Earth.

Nature is under siege on a global scale. Watson's message is clear. Serve your Mother and prosper OR serve civilisation and besmear yourself with the filth and guilt of genocide.

Today The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has identified The Ten Most Dangerous Places for Marine Mammals in the World and guess what? The Sea Shepherd Foundation is there fighting in every one of these places.

1. Canada -- The Seal Hunt 2. Japan: The Dolphin Slaughter 3. Japan -- The Japanese Whaling Fleet. 4. Norway -- The Norwegian Pirate Whaling Fleet. 5. The Faeroe Islands -- The Pilot Whaling Massacre 6. The Soloman Islands -- Dolphins killing and Captures 7. Iceland. Pirate whaling operations. 8. South Africa -- Fur Seal Slaughter 9. St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines -- the killing of whales and dolphins. 10. The World's Oceans - International Pirate Whaling Poaching.

Farley Mowat, author of Never Cry Wolf, Sea of Slaughter, and A Whale for the Killing said of Watson "Captain Paul Watson is the world's most aggressive, most determined, most active and most effective defender of wildlife". Who can deny it?

Q. What issues have you and the Sea Shephard Conservation Society been working on recently?

A. Presently we have a crew in Taiji, Japan working to oppose the annual slaughter of dolphins. Each year, the Japanese slaughter 22,000 dolphins. Our crew has been in Taiji since September. On October 6th, 60 dolphins were killed and our video and photographs were released worldwide, many on the front pages of newspapers worldwide. This has certainly brought awareness to the campaign. 13 Mellon headed whales were killed on October 23rd and 30 pilot whales killed on November 8. Although this is tragic, the kill last year when our crew was not there was much greater. It is a hostile environment for our crew but they are making a difference in Taiji. In the Galapagos, our patrol vessel Sirenian is assisting the Galapagos National Park rangers in interventions against poachers. We have been working in partnership with the rangers since December 2000 to eradicate poachers. In January, our ship Farley Mowat departs to the Galapagos to bring supplies and to undertake a campaign to spay and neuter stray dogs and cats on the island of Isabela. The ship will then proceed to Eastern Canada to intervene against the Canadian seal hunt in the spring and onto Iceland to oppose Icelandic whaling. We also have a project out of Singapore to oppose the marketing of shark fins. Sea Shepherd Brazil is intervening against illegal fishing operations off their coast. We have a project to send defenders to patrol beaches in the Caribbean to protect nesting sea turtles.

Q. Can you talk about the seal massacre in SA? What role did you play and what is happening over there?

A. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society provided a boat for the group Sea Alert to rescue seals. We are supporting South African groups working to protect seals.

Q. Brooke McDonald, a Sea Shepherd volunteer said of the dolphin slaughter said it was the most shocking things she had ever witnessed. She said that the footage taken was true to life and was "one of the most deep crimson reds she had ever seen and was horrified to realise that it came from a living organic being". Hunting dolphins is legal in Japan, and it is not banned by the International Whaling Commission. What can be done about the dolphin massacre in Japan. Can it be stopped let alone abolished?

A. I think it can be stopped but it will take time. We need to continually embarrass the Japanese government by continually releasing photos of the kills and by obstructing the hunt in the field.

Q. As a veteran of AR's and part of the first ever direct action movement what is your opinion of AR's as seen from your prospective now, instead of say 18 years ago?

A. People are much more aware. It is a healthy growing movement and getting stronger each year. I remember in the seventies that no one even knew what a vegan was. Vegetarianism was a radical concept.

Q. Can you talk about on where you think where we are moving in the movement. Are we going backwards with hunting and whaling scenarios being a daily part of the modern day scene.

A. This movement has always been one step forward and two steps backwards but that is better than three steps backwards. With escalating human populations, we can only buy time for species of plants and animals and for habitats. Growing populations demand more food and thus more factory farming. The root cause of all our problems is escalating human population growth. The human numbers must be reduced for there to be any hope of protecting bio-diversity on this planet.

Q. Are you disheartened that the Canadian seals clubbed once again to death for their pelts?

A. No, the clubbing never stopped, the numbers are however greatly increased. I can't afford to be disheartened, we must continue to oppose this bloody and horrific slaughter of seals. I have fought against it for nearly 30 years and I may well have to spend the next 30 years in this fight - the point is to never give up.

Q. What can we do to help you and your organisation?

A. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society needs three things. 1. Financial support. 2. Material support and 3. Volunteers for our ships and field campaigns. People can find out what they can do to help us defend and protect marine wildlife and marine eco-systems by checking our website at www.seashepherd.org

Q. Is direct action dead in our movement?

A. No. We've never stopped and if direct action ever is dead this will mean that our movement is dead also.

For a full transcript of "The Politics of Extinction-Remain a parasite OR become an Earth Warrior go to: www.eco-action.org/dt/beerswil.html