|CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON
"Captain Paul Watson is the
world's most aggressive, most determined, most active and most effective defender of
- Farley Mowat, Author of Never Cry Wolf, Sea of Slaughter,
A Whale for the Killing.
-- Founder of Sea Shepherd International
-- Founding Director, Greenpeace Foundation
-- Protector of the High Seas
-- Environmental Defender
Watson is a Canadian conservationist and environmental activist who has become
internationally renowned for his daring, innovative and aggressive approach to the field
of wildlife conservation. As one of the founding members of the Greenpeace Foundation,
Paul Watson sailed into a nuclear test site in Alaska in 1971, and in 1975 became the
first man to place his body between a harpoon and a whale, capturing the attention of the
Watson founded the Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977, an organization registered in Canada, the U.S.,
Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and Sweden. Under his leadership, the society has been
in the forefront of marine wildlife conservation, and is known for its aggressive
confrontation and use of the media to bring attention to conservation and environmental
issues. Its activities are impressive in their scope, and include bringing an end to
pirate whaling in the North Atlantic by ramming the whaler Sierra off the coast of
Portugal in 1979, successfully documenting illegal whaling in Soviet Siberia after a
six-hour pursuit by the Soviet Navy and Air Force in 1981, interfering in the activities
of sealing fleets off the eastern coast of Canada, and leading a campaign against the
slaughter of Pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, which led to an armed assault on the Sea
Shepherd II in 1985 and 1986.
Paul Watson is a
McLuhanesque conservationist. He studied communications and the media at Simon Fraser
University; after university he worked with the American Indian Movement during the
occupation and siege of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, followed by his daring campaigns with
Greenpeace. His nautical knowledge results from his work in the Norwegian and Swedish
merchant marine and Canadian Coast Guard. He has been written about in scores of books
and magazines, and has been the subject of hundreds of radio and television programs
worldwide. A major motion picture is being produced about his life and work. Captain
Watson has written three books and lectures throughout North America and Europe on marine
wildlife conservation, the politics of conservation and his personal experiences in
environmental movements and campaigns.
(Click To Read)
Paul Watson's career as a
Master Mariner began in 1968 as a seaman in the Norwegian merchant marine. His early
voyages provided him with experience on all the world's oceans, from typhoons in the South
China Sea to navigating the iceberg-strewn northern latitudes of the
Atlantic. He served
in the Canadian Coast Guard for two years in the early seventies, and completed his
academic education in communications at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia in
In 1971, Paul
joined with other members of the Sierra Club in organizing a voyage to protest nuclear
weapons testing in the Aleutians. The group was the Don't Make a Wave Committee and Watson
served as First Mate on that landmark expedition. The ship was the M/V Greenpeace. In
1972, Paul Watson along with some of the other crewmembers of that famous expedition
founded an organization in Vancouver, British Columbia. That group was the Greenpeace
Between 1971 and
1977, Paul Watson served as First Officer on all the Greenpeace voyages to protect whales.
Utilizing his Canadian Coast Guard experience, he suggested operating zodiacs to intervene
between the harpoons and the whales. During a confrontation with a Russian whaler in 1975,
a harpooned and dying sperm whale loomed over Paul's small boat. Paul recognized a flicker
of understanding in the dying whale's eye. He felt that the whale knew what they were
trying to do. He watched as the magnificent leviathan heaved its body away from his boat,
slipped beneath the waves and died. A few seconds of looking into this dying whale's eye
changed his life forever. He vowed to become a lifelong defender of the whales and all
creatures of the seas.
In 1975, he led the
Greenpeace expeditions to protect harp seals on the ice floes off Newfoundland. Paul
Watson and fellow Greenpeace co-founder David
Garrick were instrumental in elevating the issue of protecting the helpless baby harp
seals to the level of international concern.
Paul Watson left
Greenpeace in 1977 because he felt the original goals of the organization were being
compromised and there was a need for a direct-action conservation organization that would
enforce laws protecting marine wildlife on the high seas.
That same year,
Paul Watson founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization dedicated to
research, investigation and enforcement of laws, treaties, resolutions and regulations
established to protect marine wildlife worldwide.
In December 1978, Paul
Watson purchased a North Atlantic trawler in Britain and converted her into the
conservation enforcement vessel Sea Shepherd. Three voyages to protect harp seals finally
led to the landmark case in the Supreme Court in Canada which overturned the "Seal
Protection Act" and shut-down the Canadian commercial seal hunt 1983. This was
followed by victories that defeated seal hunts in Scotland and Ireland.
lifelong dedication to the conservation of whales has never wavered. In 1979, he hunted
and shutdown the pirate whaler Sierra. In 1980, his crew brought half the Spanish whaling
fleet to a stand-still and convinced the South African government to confiscate two outlaw
whaling ships, the Susan and the Theresa.
In 1986, Captain
Watson's crew brought the illegal Icelandic whaling industry to a grinding halt. In port,
his crew scuttled the unmanned pirate whaler Nybraena as a "Christmas gift to the
whales" on December 26th, 1992.
In July of 1994,
Captain Watson and Lisa Distefano led a highly publicized campaign against the illegal
pirate whaling operations of Norway. They sailed the vessel Whales Forever within 40 miles
of the whaling fleets at work when they were suddenly attacked by the Norwegian Navy. The
crew and the independent media aboard the Whales Forever survived the violent attack which
included being rammed, depth charged and fired upon by the Norwegian Navy which was
protecting the whaling fleet. None of these carefully supervised law-enforcement actions
for future generations have resulted in any injuries.
In enforcement of
the United Nations Resolution 46/215 banning drift nets worldwide, Captain Watson has led
four high seas expeditions against drift netting, in the process, stopping four ships from
their activity and confiscating and destroying over a hundred miles of deadly and illegal
monofilament drift net. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was instrumental in exposing and
shutting down the U.S. tuna fleets' destructive and cruel practice of fishing on dolphins
by obtaining the first videotaped evidence of this practice.
From 1984-87, Paul
Watson organized, founded and led Friends of the Wolf in a successful effort to shut down
aerial wolf-hunting in British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska.
Paul began an
alliance with Native Americans when he served as a medic for the American Indian Movement
at Wounded Knee in 1973. In the same year, he was given the rare honor of being inducted
into the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe. In 1991, Captain Watson placed his ship and crew into
the service of the Gitksan Wet'suwet'en nation. They symbolically reclaimed San Salvador
Island in the Bahamas and then intercepted and boarded the Santa Maria off Puerto Rico.
The Christopher Columbus reenactment voyage was successfully co-opted as an embarrassment
to Spain and a victory for indigenous peoples worldwide.
For 20 years,
Captain Paul Watson has been at the helm of the world's most active marine environmental
organization. All of Captain Watson's efforts on behalf of wildlife and the environment
have been volunteered. Paul has never taken any wages or remuneration from the Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society or Greenpeace before that. He is the author of Cry Wolf,
Sea Shepherd: My Fight for Whales and Seals, Shepherds of the Sea and Ocean
Captain Watson is a
highly sought-after public speaker and has been a professor of ecology at Pasadena College
of Design since 1990. He is also teaching at UCLA. Captain Watson is a regular columnist
in Ocean Realm magazine.
Read about the founding of Sea Shepherd in Captain Watson's own words.
HONORS BESTOWED UPON CAPTAIN WATSON:
CAPTAIN WATSON'S MILLENIUM
The Board of Advisors
The Staff and Regular Crew