Defender of the deep Print E-mail
Friday, 12 October 2007 00:00

Defender of the deep

By Amanda Dale , Royal Gazette, 12 Oct 2007

Pupils from Somersfield Academy meet the crew of the Farley Mowat in the first organised visit by a Bermudian school to the environmental warship.

Maverick activist Paul Watson is to give a second public talk later this month after tickets for his first lecture sold out within days.

Demand to hear the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society speak has been so great, that organisers have now arranged a second lecture at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on October 23 at 8.30 p.m.

Mr. Watson, a co-founder of Greenpeace, is visiting the Island before he heads to the Southern Ocean for Operation Migaloo. Once there, he will battle the Japanese whaling fleet as they attempt to hunt down the Australian alabaster humpbacks.

"They've crossed the line in going after endangered species," says Mr. Watson. "These guys are criminals and should be dealt with as such."

As Master and Commander of 177 Sea Shepherd voyages, he has used direct action to enforce international conservation laws on marine wildlife. Crusading against whaling, sealing and illegal fishing, some call him an 'environmental terrorist', others a modern day hero. He cuts a controversial reputation but insists: "We have to take a more aggressive position against the whalers."

Mr. Watson has been described as "the world's most aggressive, most determined, most active and most effective defender of wildlife".

However, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) adheres to principles of non-violence. Its campaigns are guided by law enforcement of the United Nations World Charter for Nature (1982). Sections 21-24 of the Charter authorise individuals to act on behalf of and to enforce international conservation laws.

The mission of the SSCS is to end the slaughter of marine wildlife and so conserve and protect the world's ecosystems.

Through his voyages fighting the poachers and plunderers of our endangered species, Mr. Watson is a world-renowned expert on the state of the oceans. At the BUEI lecture he will talk on wildlife conservation and about Sea Shepherd's 30 years of campaigning against illegal slaughter. This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the Society and the crew of the Farley Mowat — currently wintering in Dockyard, are to join Mr. Watson and other members and activists at a big celebration in Los Angeles.

Members of the public and local schools are invited to visit the black pirate-like environmental warship for an organised tour once the crew are back. The SSCS has so far scuttled ten whaling vessels and in February, the Farley Mowat will travel to Canada for the seal hunting season.

Captain Watson's BUEI lecture will include a dramatic video of his exploits, followed by a question-and-answer session. Many say his lectures inspire people in their ability to make a difference to the world. Local writer, filmmaker and conservationist Andrew Stevenson said: "I met Paul a year-and-a-half ago and he was inspirational in my own decision to make a film on the humpback whales.

"It was his moving account of the vulnerability of our marine environment that motivated me to make an underwater film based here in Bermuda, of our own marine environment and the humpback whales that migrate by here each spring."

Mr. Stevenson said: "If you care about the earth, the creatures that live on it, conservation and the environment, then you won't ever have the opportunity to listen to a more inspirational speaker."

Mr. Watson has said: "It is my function as an ecological activist to say things that people don't want to hear and to do things that people don't want to see done.

"My work may amount to no more than a ripple on the ocean's surface. But there have been many others who have made ripples before me. Rachel Carson and John Muir, Jules Verne and Farley Mowat, Dian Fossey and Richard Leakey have all disturbed the waters in their time. My own ripple will join theirs, and together they will become wavelets and waves, and eventually, perhaps, thundering surf crashing upon rocks of human ignorance and selfishness.

"My belief that the ripples will grow and multiply gives me confidence. That, and the simple satisfaction that comes from seizing drift nets, sinking whalers, ramming mechanised fish factories and destroying other weapons that have been used on the assault on nature. The thrill of saving lives, of knowing that a whale will sire, a seal pup thrive and a species survive for another few years, gives me a reason to go on."

Tickets for Mr. Watson's talk are available from BUEI or, priced $20. All proceeds go to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. If any other schools would like to organise a visit to the Farley Mowat please contact: 232 7798.

For more information on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, log onto:

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