On December 31st, 2012, I stepped down from my position as President of the Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the USA.
I did so in order as to comply with the injunction granted to the Japanese whalers by the U.S. Federal 9th Circuit Court. This was a move to protect both the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Directors due to the fact that I was already in the Southern Ocean when the injunction was granted to the Japanese whalers on December 17th, 2012. Although I also stepped down as the campaign leader and the Captain of the Steve Irwin, it was physically impossible for me to leave the ship.
Since then, it has been a rough 40 months with numerous court cases, and although Sea Shepherd was penalized for opposing the illegal activities of the Japanese whaling operations in the Southern ocean, we were vindicated by the decision of the International Court of Justice in 2014 that delivered a verdict that Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean is neither scientific or legal. In 2015, the Australian Federal Court fined the Japanese whalers one million Australian dollars for contempt for continuing to kill whales in violation of a judgment of the Australian Federal Court.
In response to the verdict of the U.S. Federal Court against Sea Shepherd USA, the U.S.A. operations of Sea Shepherd were separated from all other national Sea Shepherd entities. These entities were organized under the direction of Sea Shepherd Global directed by Captain Alex Cornelissen of the Netherlands.
The positive side of this separation was the creation of what is now the global Sea Shepherd movement.
Sea Shepherd USA is now countering suing the Japanese in the U.S. Courts.
There is no question that the legal consequences were counter productive to Sea Shepherd USA but because Sea Shepherd is a law-abiding organization, there was no alternative but to comply with the Federal Court order.
We have learned many lessons on many fronts and I believe we are the stronger because of these trials and obstacles that we have had to endure.
Now after three years and three months, I have returned to my position as President of the Board of Directors and Executive Director of Sea Shepherd USA.
In this position I will focus on the operations of ships and campaigns run by Sea Shepherd USA, specifically the operations of the ships Farley Mowat, Martin Sheen and Jules Verne. With reference to priority operations our focus will be Operation Jairo to protect sea-turtles, Operation Milagro to protect the endangered Vaquita and the initiation of campaigns to protect marine reserves in the Caribbean and the West coast of Latin America. Sea Shepherd will continue our efforts to protect the marine reserves of the Galapagos and we intend to address the plight of wild salmon off the coast of British Columbia. In addition we will continue our opposition to the illegal slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins in the Faroe Islands, the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, the Canadian seal hunt and of course illegal whaling and fishing wherever we are needed. We will also focus on our campaigns to free captive Orcas and dolphins from captivity.
Sea Shepherd USA will work in cooperation with all other Sea Shepherd groups around the planet to uphold international marine conservation laws wherever we can make a difference.
Sea Shepherd will continue our policy of aggressive non-violence and operations within the boundaries on international law as defined by the U.N. World Charter for Nature and of course within the boundaries of practicality.
I will assess the effectiveness of current campaign strategies and of course in this area, I most certainly welcome suggestions and ideas.
Sea Shepherd will continue to work to educate the public through cooperation with television programs, documentary and feature films.
Sea Shepherd will also continue to be dedicated to directing our resources to ships and campaigns. We intend to keep our staff small and efficient and we wish to continue to have the organization motivated by the passion, imagination, courage, dedication and compassion of our volunteer support base.
Our entire motivation for doing what we do is all summed up in the simple statement that “if the Ocean dies, we all die!”
Sea Shepherd ships will continue to be vegan vessels for reasons of conservation and environmental concerns and we will continue to operate our vessels as efficiently and as safely as we can. Our 39-year record of never causing an injury to our opposition or sustaining any serious injuries to our own crew is unblemished and I intend to see that it continues on this path.
I want all directors, staff, officers and crew, chapter coordinators, shore volunteers and supporters to understand that they can direct any and all complaints, suggestions and ideas to me personally and directly. We need to have efficient communications between all parties within Sea Shepherd.
I believe that Sea Shepherd has evolved in a very positive direction with our successful alliances with various governmental enforcement agencies, like with the Mexican Navy and the Galapagos National Park. And of course this compliments the cooperative efforts that Sea Shepherd Global has made in cooperation with Interpol and governments in Africa, Europe and Asia. I think this is the way of the future where we combine our activism with official powers of enforcement.
Next year Sea Shepherd will celebrate our 40th Anniversary. I want us to complete this year with every staff member, chapter leader and volunteer feeling that they we are all equal partners in something that is more than just an organization, but more importantly a much needed movement to defend and protect marine bio-diversity in our Ocean.
What we do in the coming years will hopefully have positive consequences for all future generations of all species including our own.
We have always been progressive with activism and idealism but we also need to develop a business plan to allow us to efficiently raise the funds we need to run our ships and campaigns. In the past this has been our weakness and I am convinced if we can increase our efficiency with fund-raising and with administration we will be able to increase our efficiency with campaigns.
After 40 months it is good to return to take the helm of Sea Shepherd USA and together we can now set a course towards a future of more effective interventions and creating greater awareness.
Captain Paul Watson