Connect with us
background

Marine Life & Conservation

PAUL WATSON & SEA SHEPHERD

Published

on

Introduction by Jeff Goodman

There are many ways in which we as individuals and conservationists can influence how our ecosystems and the dependent wildlife may be protected. Some of us simply talk about issues over a cup of coffee or pint of beer. Others may join a wildlife group or donate money to a popular cause. Any effort made in the name of conservation is worthwhile, but some people are driven to make that effort become their life’s work.

While many talk the talk, some are walking the walk and they are putting themselves physically on the line, protecting our natural world from those who would destroy it. Paul Watson is one such person.

I first met Paul in 1987 near Plymouth in the UK. He was about to start a campaign against the Pilot Whale slaughter that takes place in the Faroe Islands every year. The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing country within the Danish Realm since 1948 and have taken control of most of their domestic matters.

I was trying to convince the BBC that we should follow Paul and his crew to document this appalling and unsustainable killing of these migratory animals. They weren’t sure…. then as luck would have it a few local schools in Plymouth got behind the campaign and raised money to support it. This gave me the link to local BBC I needed and the film was commissioned. I feel I got to know Paul well on that trip and was humbled by the man’s determination to save our marine life. Not only that, he was a really genuine, cheerful and very intelligent person. I last worked with him a few years later on an anti drift net fishing campaign in the North Pacific and then we met again briefly in 1990. Paul has endured many hardships during his campaigning, trying to make this world a better place for all of us.

He is continually hounded by governments and international agencies who seem to have financial gain high on their agendas and very little regard for the environment. It is now 2013 and I am back in touch with Paul because of my conservation role with Scubaverse. I asked him for an article that would inspire people, who were unfamiliar with his work, to think about and even take an active role in conservation. The following is that article. You can learn more about Sea Shepherd at http://www.seashepherd.org.  I will be following the work of Sea Shepherd and Paul closely and will report regularly on their activities.

 Eco-Exile Adrift in a Sea of Trouble

15th July 2013

By Captain Paul Watson

I am writing as an exile upon the ocean. I cannot come to land anywhere because I have been placed on the Interpol Red List by Costa Rica and by Japan.

I have been at sea now for eleven months.

I did not kill or even injure anyone. I did not damage any property nor did I steal anything. What I did was much worse in the eyes of some governments – I saved lives!

Costa Rica at the request of Japan dug up an incident from 2002 where at the request of the government of Guatemala I stopped a Costa Rican long liner from catching and finning sharks in Guatemalan waters.  The warrant calling for my arrest on the charge of “creating a danger to ships or aircraft” came only days after the President of Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla met with the Prime Minister of Japan.

Costa Rica requested my name be placed on the Interpol Red List but this request was rejected by Interpol. It was for an incident a decade earlier which had been dismissed at the time on the basis that our film and witnesses demonstrated that the charge was simply the complaining of shark finners caught in the act of poaching in foreign waters.

Then in May 2012 while on my way to France on a Lufthansa flight from Denver, Colorado I was detained at Frankfurt airport by Germany on the Costa Rican request. I pointed out that Interpol had rejected the request. The Germans responded by saying that Germany made the decision to act independently of Interpol. This was two weeks before the state visit to Germany by Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.

And so I was detained for 8 days in a maximum security prison and then released on a €250,000 bond and ordered to remain in Frankfurt until a decision on extradition was made.  I waited patiently, reporting to the police twice a day for two months until around the end of July I received a confidential phone call from a supporter inside the German Ministry of Justice who warned me that I was to be arrested the next day and extradited to Japan.

While I was waiting in Germany, Japan had requested extradition from Germany.

Knowing that if extradited to Japan I would most likely never leave that country, at least not alive, I elected to depart Germany.

The Japanese were accusing me of ordering Peter Bethune to trespass on a Japanese whaling ship by boarding it after the ship had cut his own vessel in two. Bethune was arrested and taken back to Japan where he struck a plea agreement with the Japanese, exchanging a suspended sentence for an accusation that I had ordered him to board the vessel.

In actual fact I am on camera on the Animal Planet show Whale Wars advising him not to board the Japanese vessel.

I left Germany and boarded a small sailboat in the Netherlands where I proceeded to cross both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. I did not have any passports or papers so I could not go on land. However I did manage after four months to reach the waters off American Samoa in the South Pacific where I rejoined my ship the Steve Irwin in time for the voyage to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to once again intervene against the illegal whaling operations by the Japanese whaling fleet.

It was a week after leaving Germany that the Costa Rican and the Japanese warrants were accepted by Interpol making it impossible for me to land onshore anywhere. This was done more on Germany’s request than Costa Rica or Japan although Germany has since dropped their warrant for me.

Pete Bethune has since signed an affidavit stating that he signed the accusations under duress but despite this, Interpol refuses to drop the Red Listing.

No one has ever been placed on the Interpol Red List for trespassing and especially when the person was not the actual person trespassing.

However I am not overly surprised. The real reason that I am on the list is because I have led eight campaigns to the Southern Ocean to oppose the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese whaling fleet and it has cost them tens of millions of dollars in lost profits.

In 2011, the Japanese whalers were allocated $30 Million U.S. from the Tsunami Relief Fund for the purpose of shutting down Sea Shepherd and myself. With that money they are suing Sea Shepherd in the U.S., hiring P.R. firms to demonize Sea Shepherd and myself, and increasing their security around their ships.

Despite this, Sea Shepherd interventions in January and February 2013 prevented the Japanese whalers from killing 90% of their intended victims.

And despite shutting down funding for the campaign from Sea Shepherd USA through the U.S. courts, Sea Shepherd Australia is continuing to lead the effort to stop the whale poachers off the coast of Antarctica. In December 2013, the Sea Shepherd fleet and more than a hundred volunteers will once more return for Operation Relentless.

Although many people think that all Sea Shepherd does is protect whales, the fact is that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has become a global network of national groups addressing issues right across the world’s oceans from working with the rangers in Ecuador to protecting the Galapagos National Park Marine Reserve, to taking Gooseneck barnacle poachers to court in France.

Sea Shepherd is battling Bluefin tuna fishermen off the coast of Libya and in the British Courts and Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians spends half the year working to defend dolphins in Taiji, Japan.

What is unique about Sea Shepherd is that we are a network of passionate volunteers working globally to intervene and uphold international conservation law when governments refuse to do so. We are also unique in not spending donor’s money on promotion and fund-raising. Sea Shepherd money goes into ships and campaigns and as a result Sea Shepherd, founded in 1977, has become the world’s most aggressive marine conservation society.

We have one basic message and it is this; our ocean is dying and if the ocean dies, we die. We cannot live on this planet with a dead ocean. It is as simple as that.

sea-shepard-2These are dangerous times to be a conservation activist. Last month 26 year-old turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval was murdered on the beach where he was trying to defend turtle nests from turtle egg poachers. Jairo had been asking for police protection for weeks before his death and after his murder one Costa Rican government minister insensitively stated that he would not have died if he had not put himself in such a dangerous place.

Not much about this murder has been in the international media. Just another death of someone trying to defend life on the planet. Meanwhile when we succeed in non-violently preventing the killing of a whale in a whale sanctuary, the stories describe us as violent, radical, and even eco-terrorists.

Our oceans are in trouble and governments are doing very little. The only thing that stands between the destroyers of oceanic eco-systems and their victims are passionate individuals who are jailed, beaten and murdered for their efforts.

This is everyone’s fight no matter where people live for what we are fighting for is to maintain and defend the life support system for the planet.

Whatever the risks, they are risks worth taking, because if the oceans die, sooner or later we all die.

In addition to being one of the co-founders of Greenpeace in 1972 and Greenpeace International in 1979, Paul Watson is the founder of 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.

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust about the Big Shark Pledge (Watch Video)

Published

on

In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust UK about the Big Shark Pledge.

The Big Shark Pledge aims to build one of the biggest campaigning communities in the history of shark conservation. To put pressure on governments and fisheries. And make the positive changes required to safeguard awesome sharks and rays.

Find out more at: www.bigsharkpledge.org and www.sharktrust.org.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation

Marine Conservation Society to take legal action over ocean sewage spills

Published

on

The Marine Conservation Society is announcing joining as co-claimant in a legal case against the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to protect English seas from sewage dumping.  

The legal case seeks to compel the Government to rewrite its Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan 2022, impose tighter deadlines on water companies and redevelop the Plan to effectively apply to coastal waters which are, currently, almost entirely excluded.  

Sandy Luk, Marine Conservation Society CEOUntreated sewage is being pumped into our seas for hundreds of thousands of hours each year; putting people, planet and wildlife at risk. 

We’ve tried tirelessly to influence the UK Government on what needs to be done, but their Plan to address this deluge of pollution entering our seas is still unacceptable. We owe it to our members, supporters and coastal communities to act, which is why we’ve joined as co-claimants on this case. We’re out of options. Our seas deserve better.”  

Launched and funded by the Good Law Project, the Marine Conservation Society will stand as co-claimants on the case with Richard Haward’s Oysters, and surfer and activist, Hugo Tagholm. 

Before reaching this point, the charity responded to a government consultation in March 2022 and met with DEFRA to express concern. In August 2022, the charity wrote an open letter to DEFRA outlining the ways in which the proposed Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan fails to protect the environment and public health from dumping raw sewage into the sea. However, the Plan hasn’t been amended and still fails to adequately address water companies’ excessive reliance on storm overflows and the harm their heavy use causes to our ocean. 

The plan virtually excludes most coastal waters (except for bathing waters) either directly or indirectly, with some types of Marine Protected Areas and shellfish waters totally excluded. 600 storm overflows are not covered at all by the Plan and will continue to – completely legally – be able to dump uncontrolled amounts of sewage directly into English seas and beaches. What’s more, the Plan lacks all urgency – with long-term targets set for 2050, and the earliest, most urgent targets not to be met until 2035.  

Meanwhile, Marine Conservation Society analysis finds that raw sewage is pouring into the ocean at an alarming rate. In total, there are at least 1,651 storm overflows within 1km of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in England. These overflows spilt untreated sewage 41,068 times in 2021. Of these, almost half the overflows spilt more than 10 times in 2021, with an average of 48 spills for each of those overflows. Overall, in 2021, sewage poured into Marine Protected Areas for a total of 263,654 hours. 

According to DEFRA’s own latest assessments, only 19% of estuaries and and 45% of coastal waters are at ‘good ecological status’, with none meeting ‘good chemical status’, and three quarters (75%) of shellfish waters failing to meet water quality standards. 

Rachel Wyatt, Policy & Advocacy Manager for Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation SocietyUntreated sewage contains a cocktail of bacteria, viruses, harmful chemicals, and microplastics. It’s nearly impossible to remove microplastics and ‘forever chemicals’ once in the environment. Due to their persistence, with every discharge, these pollutants will continue to increase, meaning eventually they will pass – or may have already passed – a threshold of harm.”  

In addition, it’s not just invisible toxins that are causing problems. In September this year at the charity’s annual Great British Beach Clean, sewage related pollution, such as wet wipes and sanitary products, were found on 73% of the beaches surveyed across England.  

A new DEFRA report, Ocean Literacy in England and Wales, shows that 85% of people say marine protection is personally important to them. Yet this is being ignored. 

Emma Dearnaley, Legal Director at the Good Law Project, said: “The Marine Conservation Society is at the forefront of tackling the ocean emergency and standing up for coastal communities impacted by climate change and pollution. We are delighted to have them on board as a co-claimant. 

“Good Law Project will work closely with the claimants, including the Marine Conservation Society, to put forward the case for more ambitious and urgent measures to reduce sewage discharges by water companies. These sewage spills are threatening human health, biodiverse marine life and the fishing industry. We believe that taking legal action now is vital to help safeguard our coastal waters for generations to come”. 

If the case is won, the Marine Conservation Society hopes to see the UK Government amend its Plan so that it meets the DEFRA Secretary of State’s legal obligations to protect the ocean and its inhabitants from raw sewage spills.   

For more visit the Marine Conservation Society website.

Header image credit: Natasha Ewins

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies. Price NOW from just £1195 per person based on sharing a twin cabin/room including: Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage 7 nights in shared cabin 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees Free Nitrox Booking deadline: Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price. Alternative departure airports available at a supplement. Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk. More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular