WATSON, Paul




Author Tags: Environment, Fishing

“One of the things I have learned over the years is that in order to do what we do, we have to be immune to criticism.” – Paul Watson

In the doldrums of the Georgia Straight, back when Greenpeace was starting to go corporate and local control was lost to American and European adjuncts with more money and resources, Paul Watson, the breakaway rebel, used to come into the Straight newspaper office on West Fourth Avenue in Vancouver and paste-up his Sea Shepherd Society publicity for his own anti-seal hunting and anti-whaling initiatives.

Back then, the Straight was barely surviving by publishing a porn mag called the Vancouver Star with filched material from U.S. publications. Its layout tables would be festooned with slaughtered whales and other images almost as disturbing... Now Amchitka is a strange word, Phyllis Cormack is a almost forgotten fishboat and the rabble-rousing risk-taker Paul Watson is admired by the likes of America’s former TV president in West Wing, Martin Sheen, who once called Watson “by far the most knowledgeable, dedicated and courageous environmentalist alive today.”

Time magazine has since included Watson in its list of the 20th century’s twenty greatest ecologists. In 2012, he became only the second person to receive France’s Jules Verne Award; the first was Jacques Cousteau. Watson has also been highly praised and funded by Canadian environmentalist Farley Mowat with whom he shares an innate, child-honed reverence for other species. It all started for Watson at age eleven in New Brunswick when he discovered a beaver that he had befriended had been slain by trappers. Infuriated and heartsick, the boy set about finding their traps and destroying them. He remains on an identical path as a man.

These days Watson is grudgingly admired by many of his Greenpeace peers, despite his criticisms of their organization. “Greenpeace lost touch with its roots a long time ago,” he once said. “It’s lost its passion. It’s a corporation, a multinational corporation... Other groups are doing a hell of a lot more than Greenpeace on a fraction of the budget, and they don’t litter the U.S. with 48 million pieces of direct mail per year. I think it’s hypocritical for an environmental organization to litter the world with so much junk. The problem is, Greenpeace is a feel-good organization. People join to feel good. It’s a waste of millions of dollars...”

Having left Greenpeace in 1977 to start the Sea Shepherd Society, Watson was confronted in 1994 by the Greenpeace faction in Norway after he rammed a Norwegian whaling boat. The chairman of Greenpeace Norway advised Watson they were in favour of the whale harvest as a renewable resource. “That infuriated me,” Watson told Greenpeace editor and historian Rex Weyler. “That was a denial of everything Greenpeace stood for. However, there are many campaigners within Greenpeace who are sympathetic to our Sea Shepherd campaigns, and we receive useful information from them all the time. I don’t want to see the destruction of Greenpeace but I have to kick the monster in the ass now and then to remind them where they came from.”

A veteran of the confrontation at Wounded Knee and an active supporter of indigenous people’s protests, Paul Watson was nominated as a Green Party candidate for mayor of Vancouver in 1996.

In the new century Watson has taken tourists to the Galapagos Islands when he’s not engaged in environmental campaigns. Along the way he has managed to get several books into the world.

Watson first co-authored Cry Wolf! with Greenpeace co-founder Robert Hunter in 1985, then published a memoir entitled Seal Wars: Twenty-Five Years on the Front Lines (Key Porter, 2000). It begins in 1995 when Watson was holed up in the Magdalen Islands with Martin Sheen. He recalls his forays on the ice floes with Brigitte Bardot, Farley Mowat and Pierce Brosnan.

Watson’s adventures trying to disrupt business on the high seas in order to protect other species from driftnet fishing have been chronicled by David B. Morris in Earth Warrior: Overboard with Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (Fulcrum 1995). A feature-length movie is forever in the works. Meanwhile Vancouver-based filmmaker Trish Dolman has put together a thorough, compelling, warts ‘n’ all documentary, Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson in 2011, revealing the egocentricity required to be a leader during forty years of sustained activism.

Harpooning Greenpeace throughout, Watson reiterates his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society mandate “to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans” in his latest book, Interview with a Pirate: Captain Paul Watson (Firefly $24.95), co-authored with Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society France. In it, Watson repeats his contested claim that he was the youngest co-founder of Greenpeace, at age eighteen.

For any detractors who disapprove of his confrontational tactics to stop the Japanese whaling fleet, he has the perfect comeback: “Find us a whale who disapproves of our actions and we promise to give it up.”

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Captain Paul Watson: Interview with a Pirate
Seal Wars: Twenty-five Years on the Front Lines with Harp Seals

BOOKS:

Cry Wolf! (Vancouver: Shepherds of the Earth 1985) co-written with Greenpeace co-founder Robert Hunter

Seal Wars: Twenty-Five Years on the Front Lines (Key Porter, 2000).

Interview with a Pirate: Captain Paul Watson (Firefly 2013), co-authored with Lamya Essemlali $24.95 978-1-77085-173-3

Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin (McClelland & Stewart 2017)

ALSO:

Earth Warrior: Overboard with Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (Fulcrum Publishing 1995) by David B. Morris

978-1-55591-203-1

[BCBW 2017] by Alan Twigg "Greenpeace"

Interview with a Pirate: Captain Paul Watson (Firefly $24.95)
Article (2013)


from BCBW 2013
In the late 1970s, as greenpeace was starting to go corporate and local control was ceded to American and European offices, Paul Watson, the breakaway rebel, used to come into the Georgia Straight newspaper office in Vancouver and oversee paste-up of publicity materials for his own Sea Shepherd Society anti-seal hunting and anti-whaling initiatives. The Straight was barely surviving by publishing a porn mag called the Vancouver Star using filched material from U.S. publications. Its layout tables would be festooned with slaughtered whales and images of nakedness almost as disturbing... That was so long ago.

Time magazine has since included Watson in its list of the 20th century’s twenty greatest ecologists.

Nowadays Amchitka is a strange word, Phyllis Cormack is a forgotten fishboat and the rabble-rousing risk-taker Paul Watson has been called, by Martin Sheen — the actor who has appeared as America’s former TV president in West Wing and the commander in Apocalypse Now — “by far the most knowledgeable, dedicated and courageous environmentalist alive today.”

Watson has also been highly praised and funded by environmentalist Farley Mowat with whom he shares an innate, child-honed reverence for other species.
It all started for Watson at age eleven in New Brunswick when he discovered a beaver that he had befriended had been slain by trappers. Infuriated and heartsick, the boy set about finding and destroying the traps.

He remains on the same path as a man, grudgingly admired by many of his Greenpeace peers, despite his criticisms of their organization. “Greenpeace lost touch with its roots a long time ago,” he once said. “It’s lost its passion. It’s a corporation, a multinational corporation...

“Other groups are doing a hell of a lot more than Greenpeace on a fraction of the budget, and they don’t litter the U.S. with 48 million pieces of direct mail per year. I think it’s hypocritical for an environmental organization to litter the world with so much junk. The problem is, Greenpeace is a feel-good organization. People join to feel good. It’s a waste of millions of dollars...”

A veteran of the confrontation at Wounded Knee and an active supporter of indigenous people’s protests, Paul Watson was nominated as a Green Party candidate for mayor of Vancouver in 1996.

In the new century Watson has taken tourists to the Galapagos Islands when he’s not engaged in environmental campaigns. Along the way he has managed to get several books into the world.
Watson first co-authored Cry Wolf! with Greenpeace co-founder Robert Hunter in 1985, then a memoir entitled Seal Wars: Twenty-Five Years on the Front Lines (2000). It begins in 1995 when Watson was holed up in the Magdalen Islands with Martin Sheen. He recalls his forays on the ice floes with Brigitte Bardot, Farley Mowat and Pierce Brosnan.

Watson’s adventures trying to disrupt business on the high seas in order to protect other species from driftnet fishing have been chronicled by David B. Morris in Earth Warrior: Overboard with Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (Fulcrum 1995).

A feature-length movie is forever in the works. Meanwhile Vancouver-based filmmaker Trish Dolman directed a compelling, warts ‘n’ all documentary, Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson in 2011, revealing the egocentricity required to be a leader during forty years of sustained activism.

Harpooning Greenpeace throughout, Watson reiterates his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society mandate “to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans” in his latest book, Interview with a Pirate: Captain Paul Watson (Firefly $24.95), co-authored with Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society France.

In it, Watson repeats his contested claim that he was the youngest co-founder of Greenpeace, at age eighteen.

For any detractors who disapprove of his confrontational tactics to stop the Japanese whaling fleet, he has the perfect comeback: “Find us a whale who disapproves of our actions and we promise to give it up.”

978-1-77085-173-3