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Last Friday, the new season of Whale Wars started on Animal Planet where Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherds crew are once again on the high seas, battling the whalers in their pursuit of an end to all whaling activity and eventual salvation of oceanic life. The Toonari Post spoke to Mr. Watson during the post-production of the new fourth season of Whale Wars, which was aired for the first time in 2008. The founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was off the coast of New Zealand when we made contact and despite the shaky connection, the friendly crew members helped us speak with Mr. Watson while the Steve Irwin, the signature ship, was heading for Tasmania in the Asia-Pacific.
Whale Wars follows Paul Watson and the volunteers on his boat as they continue their campaign against Japanese whalers. The organisation is known for their direct-action strategy and have been vigorously campaigning for the conservation of sea life – in the first season of Whale Wars, crew members threw bottles of butyric acid onto a Japanese vessel and Mr. Watson was allegedly shot during the campaign. The second season saw the introduction of the Earthrace vessel, a record-breaking, futuristic eco-friendly ship, later re-named Ady Gil in honor of the benefactor.
During our interview, we spoke about the organisation, their values and their mission. Watson told us about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and how they work as a volunteer organization specialized in oceanic life.
Every year, the organization recruits volunteers from all parts of the world. The application procedure is not that complicated. People with a genuine interest in taking part in the organisation’s campaigns can find the application form on the organization website. Applicants must have a passion for preserving marine life and taking care of marine diversity.
During the challenging phone interview, we eventually got to ask the die-hard animal rights activist about his organisation and the cause they are fighting for.
How would you describe the everyday life on the boat?
We are thirty people on the boat from all parts of the world. Life is basic routine – everyone does watches, takes care of different departments, different duties, and we just try to keep everybody busy.
What are the main values of your organization?
Protect the ocean and protect biodiversity. Stop whaling by the Japanese whaling fleet in the southern ocean. We are protecting a sanctuary.
What is your overall mission?
Basically we want to stop illegal fishing whether it be killing the sharks or whales or fish. We want to stop the illegal fishing. The problem is that people don’t realize that if we over-fish our oceans, if we take too much out of our ocean, the ocean will die, and if the ocean dies, then humanity dies and we cannot live in this planet with a dead ocean.
What was your motivation for creating the organization?
I started doing what I do by rescuing beavers. At age 26, I started the Sea Shepherds so I have been doing this pretty much my whole life.
How much wild life would you estimate you’ve preserved?
That’s really hard to say but I would say thousand and thousands of whales and dolphins, hundred thousand seals, and I don’t know how many fish but certainly a great deal.
Regarding your mission to the Galapagos Islands, do you work with the government to protect the ecological territory?
Well, we count with the park rangers and with the Ecuadorian federal police. We’ve been doing this for 12 years and we still have to protect it. The problem is that boats coming from Costa Rica, Venezuela, even Japan, are poaching fish – even in the national park. The Galapagos are symbolic and one of the problems is that there are too many people moving there, population increases, which is putting stress on the endemic species. This is a real problem.
You currently have strong media presence; do you plan to continue?
We are doing a show about tuna and we will probably be doing more whale campaigns shows in Iceland and Norway but yes, we will continue doing media campaigns.
Speaking of Whale Wars, is Japan your main focus?
Japan hasn’t been our main focus. We’ve been very much involved in trying to stop whaling in Iceland too. We’ve started to turn our attention towards Norway, Iceland and Denmark.
Do accusations of ’Eco-terrorism’ hurt your organization in any way?
No, I don’t think it’s hurting, I don’t thing anybody is taking it seriously. In today’s world, if you disagree with somebody you just call him a terrorist. The Sea Shepherds doesn’t want to do crime, we haven’t committed a crime, haven’t injured anybody so we are not terrorists. We just happen to be up against people,who have decided that the best way to diminish somebody is to call him or her bad names. But I don’t think this hurts us at all.
You can follow the fourth season of Whale Wars, where the crew begins Operation: No Compromise in the southern ocean, every Friday at 9PM e/p on Animal Planet.
For more information on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society go to: http://www.seashepherd.org/ Want to receive up to date information on from the Sea Sheperd? Just go to their Facebook page and give them a like at http://www.facebook.com/seashepherdconservationsociety