In the wake of the devastating announcement that Japan are to leave the IWC and resume their commercial Whale hunting, I’ve been exploring the wonderful world of twitter with the hope of finding a way to help.
With blood stained Japanese Whaling ships burning in my mind, I came across two pages that looked really promising. Those pages were Greenpeace and Captain Paul Watson, both global organisations dedicated to the protection of endangered whales.
Now as a marine conservation enthusiast, and one currently desperate for reassurance that everything was under control, I merrily followed both of the above. But what would the two think of being classed as the same kind of account, attracting the same kind of followers? They’re no stranger to being in direct competition, rumour has it they absolutely hate each other… even though they’re fighting for the same cause!
To help you understand the full extent of their feud, here is some background to the two parties:
If you aren’t familiar with Cpt Paul, try streaming an ep of Whale Wars – its great!!!
Paul Watson may look a friendly, bearded, Father Christmas-esque fellow, but this guy is pretty ruthless when it comes to the protection of whales. He’s the controversial figurehead of Sea Shepherd and one-man pain-in-the-bum to the Japanese whaling industry, and was once a wanted man on the Interpol Red List! As sometimes alluded to on the TV show, he’s the kind of man that would prefer to literally throw members of his crew at harpoon ships rather than see them free to sail off chasing a whale.
But he wasn’t always a ruthless independent leader.
From 1970 to 1977 he was an ardent collaborator, putting his faith in the power of raising awareness and funds for the protection of wildlife. And he’s widely credited with being a founding member of the world-leading conservation charity, Greenpeace.
As an active conservation charity, they have always emphasised the power of peaceful protests, preferring stick to media campaigns to get the public on board and change the world’s opinion of damaging activities. Their belief in the power of images has served them well in the past, and some of the most iconic marine photographs were captured by Greenpeace volunteers while they spread the word about the devastating human impact on the earth.
So what’s the beef here? As you might have guessed, it all boils down to a clash of tactics.
In 1977 Watson was unceremoniously kicked out of Greenpeace, voted out by 11 to 1 from the charity’s board (the only member casting the vote to keep him in? Cpt Paul Watson himself). The actual goings on are very unclear and shrouded in secrecy, but in short Greenpeace claim that Watson was headstrong, arrogant, and too keen to push himself into the spotlight, while Captain Watson stands by the argument that you can’t change the world without making a few enemies, and Greenpeace are too soft to go toe to toe with the really powerful enemies, such as the Japanese Government.
Watson seemed in no way deterred by this career blip. In fact, far from sinking into the conservation wilderness, he bucked up his ideas and set up a rival campaign!
To this day Captain Paul remains convinced that invasive action is the only way to get things done, and his “Sea Shepherd” organisation puts all its energy and resources into shutting down the south sea whaling industry. Whale Wars follows the Sea Shepherd ships and volunteers to the unforgiving antarctic waters, where they prop foul, night raid, and chase the rival ships of the whaling fleet for up to 5 months at a time! They’ve been criticised for their cavalier attitude to volunteer safety, and their sometimes highly illegal tactics, but they make excellent viewing and to their credit they have brought an early end to the whale hunting season more than once. It’s a 5 series show, proper edge of the seat stuff and an absolute health and safety nightmare (which nowadays, is actually very refreshing!)
So what do I do? Do I continue taking an interest in both the peaceful and the vigilante side of marine mammal conservation? Or do I have to pick a team? Oh god, its too hard. I suppose the only thing to do is carry on sneakily stalking both parties, and hope that by hook or by crook, the whales of the world are afforded the protection they deserve. I just hope this doesn’t ruin my chances of being chosen for an expedition…