Greenpeace co-founder sails into local waters Print
Friday, 10 December 2004 00:00

Greenpeace co-founder sails into local waters

By Sarah Titterton , Royal Gazette, 10 Dec 2004

Dolphin parks beware! The pirate dubbed "the world's most experienced rammer of vessels" could be joining in the battle to prevent Dolphin Oasis from opening.

Captain Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace and founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international organisation forcefully dedicated to marine conservation, is in Bermuda on the Sea Shepherd vessel .

Capt. Watson is notorious for the stormy path he has taken since Greenpeace to protect the ocean�s wildlife � including spending time in Dutch jails, setting legal precedents in Canada, and ramming ten whaling ships in the span of two decades.

In fact, actor Sean Penn will be playing Capt. Watson in an upcoming movie about one of his more famous exploits in Portugal involving the sinking of the pirate whaler .


There are only two rules at Sea Shepherd, he said: never compromise, and never cause injury to anybody � human or animal.


With such a fearsome reputation behind him, the Captain was refreshingly confident about Bermuda�s environmental legislation.


Sea Shepherd may be writing a letter to Government protesting against the opening of Bermuda�s second dolphin swim park, Dolphin Oasis, he said, joining the dozens of other international groups voicing their dissent against the plan.


However, �I�m pretty certain the application will be rejected,� he said. �Either that, or the (Environment) Minister will stop it.�


Bermuda has �strong� laws regulating dredging, he said. �You have an interest in protecting the environment here. Tourism goes a long way towards protecting the environment.�


One dolphin swim park on an Island this size is more than enough, he added.


Sea Shepherd is against any kind of programme where marine mammals are kept in captivity on principle, he said � and programmes where humans come into contact with the animals in particular. �All kinds of viruses and bacteria can pass from humans to dolphins, and vice versa,� he said.


In this case, though, �It�s really up to the Government.


�We�re certainly watching it,� he added.


The Department of Planning has already recommended the Development Applications Board (DAB) reject the application by Dolphin Oasis to build a dolphin swim park at the Wyndham Beach Resort in Southampton.


Though Dolphin Oasis made a last-minute attempt to withdraw the application the move was not permitted. An attempt to persuade the Department of Planning to change their recommendation was also rejected.


Instead, the application to build the park at Sinky Bay � involving extensive dredging of the bay � will be considered by the DAB this week. A decision is expected early next week.


The plans have been closely followed by hundreds of local and overseas environmentalists who are concerned about the environmental implications of dredging the bay and the possible dangers to dolphins, in the event of a hurricane, if they are kept on the South Shore.


Bermuda�s other dolphin swim park, Dolphin Quest, was formerly located out of the Fairmont Southampton Princess�s Whaler Inn on South Shore.


The company was forced to relocate to a more protected location in Dockyard, however, after the South Shore facility was significantly damaged during Hurricane Gert in 1999.


Four dolphins escaped: two were recaptured, while the other two were believed to have returned to the wild.


Though it was rumoured that Sea Shepherd is in Bermuda to specifically target this issue, Capt. Watson laid that tale to rest.


The group is actually on the Island to regroup and put everything in ship-shape order before launching their next campaign � saving 350,000 seals from being murdered at the hands of Canadians in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.