See shepherd run

Brian Jones
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Paul Watson is on the lam, having skipped bail in Germany and gone on the run to avoid possible extradition to Costa Rica, where he is accused of endangering lives by using a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship to ram a fishing boat.

No word yet on how the famed environmentalist’s donors and benefactors feel about being out $320,000. Put it on their tab as part of the cost of saving the world.

Adore him or despise him, you have to acknowledge Watson is a first-rate international newshound.

Too bad his group never took up the cause of slaughtered cod with the same passion it devotes to seals.

Perhaps the most illustrative story about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an incident several years ago while the group was protesting against Japanese whalers in the Antarctic.

Sea Shepherd members in a zodiac went missing. Getting lost on the North Atlantic would be bad enough; being lost on the Antarctic Ocean would be a death sentence if they weren’t found.

Ironically, the Japanese whaling ship that was the target of the Sea Shepherd Society’s protests joined the search, found the missing zodiac and took the crewmembers aboard.

The rescue must have led to some mighty interesting conversations. What do you say to an adversary who rescues you from certain death? Unfortunately, the media reports at the time did not reveal what the two sides said to each other onboard the Japanese whaler.

But the situation repeated a moral dilemma that has existed for millennia: what do you owe someone who saves your life?

The Sea Shepherd Society’s answer: nothing.

Soon after the protesters were returned to their ship, the society’s campaign of harassing the whaler continued. Amazingly, at one point the protesters threw jars of butyric acid onto the deck of the whaler.

Strange thanks, indeed.

Not surprisingly, the two sides had far different interpretations of the event. The Japanese claimed some crewmembers of the whaler were injured. The sea shepherds claimed they had tossed “stink bombs.”

Who to believe? Both are disreputable. One kills whales, in contravention of a worldwide ban. The other is willing to ram ships. In the Antarctic.

Even Watson’s detractors have to admit he is right as often as he is wrong. A lot of what he says is valid. But when he’s wrong, he’s way wrong.

Was there an utterly immoral and profoundly destructive slaughter of millions of animals taking place for decades in the North Atlantic, which cried out for action by environmentalists and condemnation by conservationists? Yup. But it was of cod, not seals.

The most dislikable thing about Watson is he epitomizes an animal-rights movement that has lost perspective, and equates animal lives with human lives.

Consider his action in 2002 that has Costa Rican authorities seeking his extradition. Coming across a Costa Rican fishing boat engaged in “shark finning” — an illegal and despicable practice, to be sure — a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship rammed it and attempted to force it into port.

There are dead sharks on one hand, and possibly dead humans on the other. The two situations are not equal. Love nature and animals all you want, but a dead shark is not worth a dead fisherman.

This critique of the animal-rights movement is not new, of course. The animal-righters have even come up with a term to defend against it. In keeping with our jargon-loving era, they claim that valuing human life over animal life is “species-centric.”

Whatever. In the meantime, Newfoundlanders (and Labradorians) could prove their legendary friendliness by establishing a fund to buy Watson a new pair of running shoes.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at

Organizations: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, The Telegram

Geographic location: Germany, North Atlantic, Costa Rica

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Recent comments

  • romika
    August 25, 2012 - 12:40

    Watson selects issues based on media and money making potential.. plain a simple. He is noted for attacking fishermen participating in legal and manged fisheries (includes sealing and whaling). In fact there is evidence that his pretend pirate show in the southern ocean resulted in the Japanese digging in on whaling. Watson is slowing becoming a "no name" as more and more followers learn the truth. I was LA last week and heard rumors that even this TV show is questionable for the coming season....Tee shirt subscribers have lost interest in this criminal....

  • Freddy Pacheco PhD
    August 10, 2012 - 00:25

    It is known that Watson means big business for some TV producers and for himself. If Costa Rican authorities and NGO don’t support the proposed measures intended to prohibit exportation of shark fins, which is where the big business stands, another 10 years of “campaigns” will be seen with no positive results, while Watson will go on like Johnny Walker collecting contributions to his "cause". We’ll welcome to see Watson responding for the accusations derived from his regrettable actions against the small Costa Rican fishermen he tried to sink. Men who were not fining as it was filmed and showed originally in Sharkwater, before editing the video that is shown by Watson’s friends on some YouTube links. If he committed something wrong he should respond for it as a man who respects himself and the value of truth. Otherwise, we’ll have to think on him as something else. In Costa Rica he will have a fair trial, and that’s why he is afraid and running through the Afghanistan mountains…

  • Dagmar
    August 07, 2012 - 17:55

    Unfortunate that articles with little to no research are allowed at this publication.

  • Matthew Williams
    August 04, 2012 - 05:32

    You asked for a reaction from Sea Shepherd supporters. I am one who has donated and been vocal in support of Sea Shepherd. I feel as did Paul Watson (I would imagine) that the risk of his staying to be extradited was greater than the risk of being unable to return to Germany for a few years because he jumped bail. The fact is that Japan has nasty fingers in certain pies and was preapred to spend tsunami disaster relief money to fund the security ships for the illegal whale hunt. This is how much Japan cares about its own people let alone whales. So for them to plough even more money into bribes to Costa Rica to bring the extradition warrant shows the Japan is more interested in saving face and getting people who embarrass its Nations face eliminated rather than doing the decent and easier thing and just stopping whaling! BUt the Japanese are fiercyly proud people and dont like being told what to do... so for that the whales must suffer. Do I think what Watson did was wrong from a monetary point of view as someone who donates, no way! We know what Pauls goals are and it takes a lot of money to sidestep govts and crooked lawyers to get the job done. Its a crying shame Paul cant visit Germany again any time soon but hey, theres always all the countries around Germany he still can and Skype is such a great tool. I dont think he will be losing much sleep over it. Paul says he and the crews are prepared to die to save the whales and throwing some stink bombs - not at people but at the deck in order to stink not injure is no big deal. Brian would you rather Paul stay in Germany and get extradited to a Costa Rican jail run by mafia where he gets executed for a few packet of cigarettes by some inmates? Hmmm???

    • Creepy Crawl
      August 05, 2012 - 07:47

      Paul says he will die for his cause, just not go to trial. A trial would show how just his actions are and how unjust the law is. That was Gandhi , that was Martin Luther King Jr. Watson's supporters like to compare him to those two men. An insult to those two. Japan's taxpayers may be footing the bill, not tsunami relief funds. That's a lie from Watson, meant to incite his cult, he's very good at vilification. One of his memorable quotes " if you don't know the answer, fact or statistic.....make it up on the spot" That has served him well and rallied the starstruck sheep. He has made some outlandish claims about the people of Atlantic Canada, and his sheep believe every word of it. Incredible. Watson is a malignant narcissist, he attracts like minded bigots for his tutelage. Nasty folk. Pete Bethune says the sea shepherds threw him away " like a used condom", he also figures Watson's activity is finally biting him in the ass.

  • helen
    August 04, 2012 - 01:03

    What biased report on a great conservationist. Australians know first-hand how the Japanese thumb their noses at anti-whaling laws and this is why their ships are not allowed to refuel in our ports. Keep going, Paul Watson HERO.

    • Creepy Ceawl
      August 05, 2012 - 07:51

      Australia kills 1 million kangaroos a year , half a million baby joeys will be left to starve or become prey.

  • Molly Isaac
    August 03, 2012 - 21:06

    Very disappointed that this desk editor's most illustrative example of Sea Shepherd 's conduct is 'fabricated.' Please don't tell me The Telegram was sold to Fox News Network ....

  • Linda Jackson
    August 03, 2012 - 18:16

    The Japanese whalers are illegally killing whales in the Southern Ocean. This is brutal and barbaric. Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd organisation are trying to stop this repugnant blood letting. We need to protect our sea life. I hope the Sea Shepherd are sucessful in stopping whaling and the slaughter of dolphins and sharks.

  • JC
    August 03, 2012 - 17:25

    "famed environmentalist"? Hardly, the man is a terrorist!

  • AnimuX
    August 03, 2012 - 16:30

    While droning on in condemnation of Sea Shepherd you gave a factually incorrect account of a small boat gone missing at sea. You also conveniently failed to mention an incident where the whaling fleet lost a man overboard -- NOT as a result of any protest action. Sea Shepherd offered to assist in the search, including to deploy their helicopter and the whaling fleet refused their assistance -- then later falsely claimed Sea Shepherd interfered with the search. Paul Watson was involved in the first ever action against whaling in 1975 with the original Greenpeace foundation versus the Soviet Union. He later took on pirate whalers that were illegally hunting whales and smuggling the meat to Japan with the newly founded Sea Shepherd. Then Iceland, Norway, Russia again, the Faroe Islands, and of course Japan's Antarctic hunt. Sea Shepherd has also gone after illegal drift net use in the Pacific, shark poaching and illegal fishing in the Galapagos (where they supplied law enforcement with radios, weapons, boats, and dogs trained to sniff out illegal contraband) -- and more. What's unfortunate about most articles concerning Watson is they like to exaggerate about Watson and say nothing about why he does what he does except to make broad generalizations about conservation, animal rights protest, and sensational acts. Of course, without context your readers might not understand the Soviets were killing thousands of whales above their allotted quotas in the 1970s. They might not know Japan's Taiyo fisheries setup whale poaching operations all over the world in the 1970s and 80s -- even while Japan's actual whaling industry was violating quotas and other regulations. They might not know the drift nets being used in the Pacific had been prohibited by international agreement -- or that park rangers in the Galapagos were woefully underfunded and ineffective at stopping illegal fishing without some help. Just so you're clear -- the Costa Rican shark poachers who claim Watson "endangered their lives" were never in any danger and the entire event was filmed and included in a documentary called "Sharkwater". They were filmed illegally killing sharks for the fins -- Costa Rica is known for its element of organized crime that is involved in shark finning -- criminals that have threatened the lives of others at gunpoint (like Gordon Ramsay) -- but the criminals were released while Watson was charged by the Costa Rican government. Japan also happens to be a huge contributor of ODA money to Costa Rica (over $140 million from 2006-2010) which calls the motives for a new 2006 warrant for Watson and later 2011 extradition request into question. So let's just look narrow this down to the subject of activists and what happens to them around the world when they say or do something in protest. Hundreds and hundreds of environmentalists and other activists have been brutally murdered since the beginning of the environmental movement. Why isn't there some sort of international outcry for them? Ghandi was convicted of sedition for organizing illegal work stoppages in protest for an independent India. Students were brutalized and imprisoned by police for organizing illegal sit-ins to protest the Vietnam war. Neda was shot and killed by government thugs for protesting with her fellow countrymen in the streets against an oppressive Iranian regime. And Paul Watson is in hiding while governments attempt to imprison him for attempting to stop shark poaching and whale poaching. Critics write about Watson as if he is some sort of dangerous and devious character -- yet almost everything he does is accompanied by cameras to document why he's taking such actions -- and he has never killed anyone or attempted to in over 30 years of activism. How many innocent non-violent activists have been murdered, brutally beaten, and imprisoned by criminals, poachers, industry thugs, and tyrannical governments in that same span of time? Why aren't those killers called terrorists by every critic with a blog?

  • Terry Waith
    August 03, 2012 - 09:18

    The incident in the southern ocean did not happen as you state. A small boat went missing and Sea Shepherd put out a distress call. As required by international law the whalers aided in the search. It was SEA SHEPHERD who found the small boat, not the whalers as you claim. Sea Shepherd then radioed the whalers to inform them they had found the missing crew and thanked them for their assistance. Please ensure your articles are factual.

    • Too Funny
      August 03, 2012 - 10:42

      What? No comment on the dear leader being on the lam.