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THE WAY WE WERE

09/04/2022

SEA SHEPHERD - THE WAY WE WERE

There are hundreds of organizations dedicated to protecting the Ocean and defending marine wildlife.

Some do education. Some use litigation. Some pursue legislation. Some do research. Some do civil disobedience.

The strength of an eco-system is determined by diversity and interdependence.

The strength of a movement is also determined by diversity and interdependence which means all these approaches are valid and important.

Sea Shepherd was different from the beginning.

When I first established Sea Shepherd in 1977, it was my objective to design a unique approach, with a unique strategy.

That approach was direct confrontation utilizing aggressive non-violence. It was also a strategy of using media to change perceptions.

From the beginning it was controversial but most importantly it was effective.

Years ago, an FBI Special Agent said to me that “Sea Shepherd is walking a very thin line when it came to the law.”

I replied, “Does it matter how thin the line is if you don’t actually cross that line?”

We have always acted within the boundaries and the complexities of the law and of practicality but we also pushed it at every opportunity.

This approach took us to the ice floes of Eastern Canada to defend seal pups, to the shores of Soviet Siberia to expose illegal whaling, to the Faroe Islands to oppose the horrific slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins, to the Galapagos to protect the Marine reserve and to Antarctica to protect and defend the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

With Whales Wars we humiliated the Japanese whaling fleet before the eyes of the entire world. We helped to undermine the market for seal products from Canada and Norway.

It was our passion, our courage and our imagination that made Sea Shepherd what it became today.

We ended every single pirate whaling operation in the North Atlantic and shut down Icelandic whaling for 17 years. We confronted dolphin killers in Taiji, Japan and shut down the dolphin massacres in Iki Island, Japan. We were the only group to actually enforce the rulings of the International Whaling Commission.

We did amazing things, awesome things, saving lives, thousands of whales and sea turtles, tens of thousands of seals, hundreds of thousands of sharks and millions of fish.

We did so by making waves and by having the courage to go where no one had gone before and to do things people thought could not be done, like blockading the Canadian sealing fleet in the harbor of over a week and chasing the sealing ships out of the ice. We cut gill nets, we confiscated drift nets, we damaged harpoons, freed bluefin tuna from the nets and we took our fights from the high seas and into courtrooms where we won many legal battles. We engaged in the longest pursuit of a poacher in maritime history and watched as the captain of the Thunder sank his own ship in from of us in an attempt to destroy the evidence, evidence that was secured by our crew boarding that sinking ship, evidence that sent that captain and his two officers to prison.

We never backed down and it has never been in our nature to back down. We flew our Jolly Roger flag defiantly and purposely to mock the poachers that are decimating life in the sea. We rammed their ships, we sunk their ships and we did so without inflicting a single injury on any of their crew.

Who were we? Rosie Kunnekke charging through a gauntlet of whalers to obstruct the killing of pilot whales and being tackled to the ground by Faroese police. Laura Dakin cooking up a storm for the crew in the Southern Ocean, Peter Woof and Jerry Doran standing fast alongside me as we ended the career of the notorious pirate whaler Sierra. My crew and I landing on a Siberian beach and winning a show-down with a Soviet frigate. And so many others, hundreds of others, all passionate and committed.

Sea Shepherd has always been defined by the volunteers that stood their ground in Taiji, in the Faroes, on the island of Mayotte. The legion of volunteers that have removed thousands of tons of plastic from beaches around the world.

We have always been passionate, our volunteers have always been courageous and dedicated and effective. We have always been confrontational and controversial – always!

Why did I resign from Sea Shepherd USA? Why was I dismissed from the Board of Directors of Sea Shepherd Global?

The reason is simple. Because I did not change. Because I still hold true to the course of controversial confrontation and aggressive non-violent action that has defined us for 45 years.

Why become something else when we have been so effective by being what we are, what we always have been.

It demeans our entire history to transform into being uber drivers for academics. It insults all that we have ever been to turn our backs on all that we always have been.

I realize things change, that people become complacent and mellow, tired and concerned about security and respectability.

These are not things that affect me. What drives me, motivates and stirs me to continued action is the knowledge that when the ocean dies, we all die!

And our ocean is dying!

We cannot rest on our laurels, we cannot become complacent and we should never accept the mediocre and water-downed activism that defines so many movements that have become far too comfortable and far too timid to be effective.

We need to end the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan.

We need to end the slaughter of whales in the Faroe Islands.

We need to see the end of the seal killing in Canada and Namibia,

We need to see the end of whaling by Norway, Japan, Iceland and Denmark.

We need to see the collapse of industrialized fishing operations.

We need to see real solutions to address climate change.

We need to do everything possible to end the diminishment of species and the continued destruction of eco-systems on this planet.

And most importantly we don’t need to listen to people saying we can’t do these things. For nearly a half century we have ventured to do the impossible. Sometimes we fail and sometimes we win, but we should never surrender.

Towards this end, we need to continue doing what we have always done and to do so, we need to establish a structure that will allow us to continue to be effective where it counts.

With the help of like-minded we can rebuild that structure and we can continue to give this movement the unique benefit of what we have been so very good at for so many years – saving lives, eco-systems and changing perceptions.

The answer to an impossible problem is to find the impossible solution. We have done that and we can continue to do it and we will continue to do so.

I welcome each and every person who shares my passion to defend life in the sea and to join me to build yet another great movement.

I also wish to encourage all those passionate and committed peoples on the Sea Shepherd Global ships, the volunteers in the Faroe Islands, the incredible people of Sea Shepherd France who did all that they could recently to rescue a beluga whale in the Seine, those awesome people in the U.K. and their impressive campaigns to remove ghost nets, to the devoted volunteers in Australia cleaning up remote beaches.

France under the leadership of Lamya Essemlali, The United Kingdom under the leadership of Rob Read, Brazil under the leadership of Nathalie Gil and Carolina Castro continue to represent the true spirit of Sea Shepherd.

Any Sea Shepherd crew member or shore volunteer who understands what Sea Shepherd is - that we are unique, that we are controversial and most importantly we are fearless, this is the spirit of a movement that can change the world for the better, that can save countless lives and can set an example for future generations. As long as Sea Shepherd has this spirit, Sea Shepherd will survive and will grow stronger.

And a strong Sea Shepherd movement is something that I wish to work alongside with going forward. I remain a director for Sea Shepherd France, the U.K. and Brazil and I will work with them to further the important campaigns that they are leading, defending whales from Icelandic harpoons, protecting the Amazon and defending dolphins in the Bay of Biscay and many other challenges.


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