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Paul Watson and Planet Ocean

  October 29, 2010

On Friday I had the honour of hearing Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson speak at a fundraiser at Robina Woods Golf Course.

Watson is a hero of mine and I have interviewed him on the phone before, but it was very exciting to see him in person.

The man is a walking encyclopedia of facts about the ocean and what we, as a species, are doing to it.

His speeches are not loud. He doesn’t need to raise his voice to make a point or to show his passion for the oceans and their wildlife.

He is intelligent and he makes rational arguments, appealing to our minds as well as our hearts.
Aside from enlightening me on several marine catastrophies I wasn’t even aware of - the slaughter of 20,000 Dall’s porpoises in northern Japan and the killing of pilot whales in the Danish Faeroe Islands - he shed some light on Sea Shepherd’s upcoming campaign in the Southern Ocean.

He calls his fleet Neptune’s Navy and doesn’t mind the the label pirate, but is also quick to point out the organisation has done nothing illegal.

“I am not going to bear witnesss to the destruction of these species,” he says.

“If you want something done, get pirates to do it.

“We are not a protest organisation. I find it (protest) very submissive.”

Last year, the organisation spent $6million on their campaign against the Japanese whalers and cost the whalers $135m in loses.

“If we cut their quota by 80 to 90%, that’s our goal this year,” said Watson.

“Our success is measured in how many animals we can save.”

They depart Australia on December 2, this time with a new intercepting vessel, the Ocean Adventure, a trimaran twice as big as the Addy Gill, which was wrecked last year by a collision with one a whaling vessel. 

But Watson doesn’t want to just bankrupt Japan’s whalers. He wants to turn the country into a pro-whale nation and he points to Australia as a modern example of the switch.

“In 1978 we were here battling Australian whalers in Western Australia,” he said.
“Australia was a whaling country three decades ago.”

Watson also revealed he is working on another TV series. Cameras already follow him and his crew for Animal Planet’s Whale Wars, which will go into its fourth season of production in December.

The new series, also to air on Animal Planet, will focus on a variety of conservation issues such as poaching of rhino horns in Africa pursued by a team of Sea Shepherd conservationists.

“It will be a Charlie’s Angels kind of thing and I’ll be Charlie,” he laughed.

And if it was up to him, he’s call our tiny corner of the solar system Planet Ocean.

And lastly, here are just a few of my favourite facts Watson brought up during his speech:
*house cats eat more fish than all the world’s seals
*one farmed salmon requires 70 fish to be taken out of the ocean (to feed it)
*40% of the fish caught are eaten by livestock, pets and farmed fish, not humans
*pigs are the world’s largest aquatic predator in terms of the weight of fish consumed
*An average of five people are killed by sharks each year, compared to 100 by ostriches, 900 by hippos and 9 by soda machines
*the meat industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the auto industry

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