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Published On: Thu, Jun 8th, 2017

‘Whale Wars’ Paul Watson discusses activism, international conservation laws, anti-poaching

Animal Planet’s Whale Wars may have wrapped but the show captivated audiences.

Sea Shepherd activists took on whalers by ramming Japanese ships with their vessels, tossing smoke bombs and canisters of butyric acid onto their decks.

Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson may not have a show anymore, but he’s still working hard trying to protect marine life and the world’s oceans.

“I’m doing a lot of speaking engagements, I’m more organized,” Watson told Maui Time. “We have 12 ships now. So trying to organize the crews on the ships, we have around 200 volunteers with ships in 25 different nations. It’s a constant thing to get the right people in the right place and deploy the vessels where they’re need to be. Sea Shepherd is registered in about 40 different countries, so at any given time we have probably 25 to 35 different nationalities involved on the ships.”

Watson will travel to Maui for the Strings and Finz benefit at Lumeria Maui.

“… I will be talking about marine conservation, upholding of international conservation laws, anti-poaching, the importance of protecting marine ecosystems if we want to survive. We can sum up what we do in a very simple sentence: if the ocean dies, we die. This is really a question of self-survival.”

It’s no surprise that the Whale Wars star is at odds with some governments and corporations.

“Activism is activism, everything else is simply talk,” says Watson. “Talk changes very little, Activism achieves results. I do what I do without regarding the odds against me, without worrying about winning or losing but instead doing what I think is the right and just thing to do. I concentrate on the present knowing that what I do in the present will have positive consequences for the future.”

“Two years ago at the COP 21 Conference, I presented a paper, which of course no one was going to take seriously,” says Watson.

“I said, look, the oceans are dying. Since 1950 we’ve had a 40 percent diminishment in phytoplankton population. Phytoplankton provide about 80 percent of the oxygen that we breathe. We simply can’t go on doing this. For hundreds of years, the Polynesians had a method called kapu–it was a taboo system. The kahuna would say this is kapu and anyone caught fishing during the kapu would get the death penalty. It seems a little extreme but when you consider that if they overfished they would die, the Hawaiians could not live without the fish. It was a question of survival. The problem that we have is there are no taboo areas anywhere in the world. The fish can’t hide anywhere. We’ve removed 90 percent of the fish in the sea. By 2048, there won’t be a commercial fishing industry anywhere because there won’t be any fish to catch.”

He says those numbers are based on the research and conclusion of biologists Boris Worm of Dalhousie University and Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia.

Watson takes these statistics very seriously.

Sea Shepherd is always looking for volunteers and donations, and speaking engagements and appearances like the one next week with Watson are one of the ways the organization raises funds for their international conservation campaigns.

“The Sea Shepherd only addresses one part of conservation,” says Watson. “The strength of an ecosystem lies in diversity. The strength of any movement will have to lie in diversity. We need thousands of groups addressing thousands of issues. So we don’t pretend to take on everything. We have a hard enough time focusing on anti-poaching and plastic issues. Really, the strength is in individuals. There are individuals that are making a difference all over the world. Because of Dian Fossey, we still have Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. Because of Birute Galdikas, we still have orangutans in the jungles in certain places. People are making a difference on that level. That’s what I try to encourage people to do. Find something that they’re passionate about, and devote their imagination and talents into finding solutions.”

 

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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