“Build me an ark!” or at least help to buy one, Watson tells supporters
WOODSTOCK, Vermont––Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson on September 13, 2022 thanked Sea Shepherd France, Sea Shepherd UK, Sea Shepherd Brazil, Sea Shepherd Austria, and Sea Shepherd Tahiti for “loyal and much appreciated support for the establishment of the Captain Paul Watson Foundation” as new hub for many of the constellation of organizations spun off from Sea Shepherd over the past 45 years.
Watson, 71, was forced out of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and out of Sea Shepherd Global in late June 2022 and early September 2022, respectively, after a hostile takeover by board members aligned with multi-millionaire real estate developer Pritam Singh, 72.
Takeover scuttled vegan food policy
Singh, a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society donor for more than 30 years and involved in the organization for about 20 years, brought marine mammalogists Roger Payne, 87, and Diana Reiss, 74, to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society board.
Singh then announced that the organization would become the Marine Conservation Society, focused on research; scrapped the vegan food policy Watson had maintained aboard all Sea Shepherd vessels since inception in 1977; and scrapped much of the Sea Shepherd fleet, all as part of an attempted radical change in Sea Shepherd image and direction.
Summarized Watson, “No more direct action, no more controversial campaigns, and no more confrontations with poachers.
Three boats scrapped, one sold, one on the block
“They have scrapped the White Holly, the John Paul DeJoria, and the Sharpie,” Watson charged, allegedly all without notifying the sponsors for whom the three vessels were named.
“They have sold the Brigitte Bardot and have plans to sell the Martin Sheen,” Watson continued, while adding one ship, the Sharkwater, which Watson describes as “a luxury dive boat, a comfortable platform for research, but not suitable for intervention” against maritime poachers.
Captain Paul Watson Foundation
Resigning from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society U.S., forfeiting annual compensation totaling $224,125 in 2020, Watson incorporated the Captain Paul Watson Foundation in Delaware on July 13, 2022.
“I thought that Sea Shepherd Global would support me and I urged people to continue to support Global,” Watson said, but Sea Shepherd Global, headquartered in Australia, instead on September 1, 2022 aligned itself with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society U.S.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society U.S. then enjoined Watson from in any way using the Sea Shepherd name or insignia, including in historical photographs of himself aboard Sea Shepherd ships, wearing a Sea Shepherd t-shirt, and/or with the Sea Shepherd flag, resembling the Jolly Roger, which Watson personally designed.
Watson in his September 13, 2022 statement indicated that the first priority for the Captain Watson Foundation will be rebuilding the fleet he often called “Neptune’s Navy,” after the Greek god of the oceans.
“Sea Shepherd France and Sea Shepherd UK need ships to protect whales, dolphins and seals and to stop industrialized destructive fishing operations. Sea Shepherd Brazil needs a river boat to defend life in the Amazon,” Watson said.
“We need to end the horrific slaughter of dolphins and pilot whales in the Faroe Islands,” a territory of Denmark, “and in Taiji, Japan,” Watson continued. “We need to shut down Icelandic whaling and eradicate the obscenity of whaling from this planet forever.
“We need to continue to remove the destructive ghost nets and plastic debris, and we need to restore coral reefs, sea grasses, and fish populations.
Will work with any Sea Shepherd entity
“The Captain Paul Watson Foundation will work with any Sea Shepherd entity,” Watson pledged, “toward finding possible solutions to seemingly impossible problems.”
Meanwhile, some Sea Shepherd organizations continued to make clear that they will not work with Watson.
“Today Sea Shepherd Australia removed me as an editor on the Sea Shepherd Australia Facebook page,” Watson announced on September 11, 2022, “and deleted a post by myself where I responded to [Sea Shepherd Australia director] Jeff Hansen’s vicious attack on me at a recent Sea Shepherd Australia meeting of volunteers and staff.
The Watson response is accessible at https://www.facebook.com/captpaulwatson/videos/420141313518577
One dirty sock?
In gist, Hansen threatened to expose Watson’s “dirty laundry,” without indicating just what that might be. Watson responded by challenging Hansen to “produce so much as one dirty sock.”
Watson also acknowledged Pritam Singh’s past contributions to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and his help to Watson personally, including arranging Watson’s return to the U.S. after years in exile.
But Watson then explained that Singh’s past help did not buy Watson’s subservience, or his acquiescence to decisions Watson believes would jeopardize the future and reputation of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as the action-oriented entity it always has been.
“They also removed my ability to comment on any post by anyone,” Watson said, declaring himself “Effectively censored despite the fact that I am still a Sea Shepherd Australia board member, at least until the scheduled board meeting on September 17, 2022, when I suspect I will be dismissed.”
“Proud of our Jolly Roger flag”
Watson noted the irony that while he is enjoined from using the traditional Sea Shepherd imagery, the future Marine Conservation Society is itself not using, but instead purging that imagery from their web sites.
“We have always been proud of our Jolly Roger flag,” Watson said, “which some Sea Shepherd groups are removing because it offends some nations and some companies they want to work with and to receive support from. And yet at the same time they want to deny that flag from being used by me, to deny my wearing a shirt with that logo.
“It seems the intent is to erase me from Sea Shepherd history.”
Watson responded to that by posting a caricature image of a “Minion” cartoon figure dressed as himself.
Singh has not sung
Three months into the split between the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (US) and Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (US) president Pritam Singh has said little or nothing about it, at least on the record, since Science online news editor David Grimm on June 30, 2022 posted an article headlined “Sea change: Can former pirates help scientists study troubled waters?”
The article, quoting Singh about his intended changes to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and attributing to Singh campaign decisions that were Watson’s, made before Singh was president, precipitated the split with Watson into the open.