Sea Shepherd slams Greenpeace for seal harvest support

Members of animal rights group PETA protest Canada's support for seal harvesting. © Lucy Nicholson
A founding member of Greenpeace has criticized the organization over its decision to support indigenous sealing.

Paul Watson said the organization is “now playing into the hands of the fur industry and the Canadian interest in marketing seal fur to China”.

In an open letter posted on Watson’s Facebook page, he criticized Greenpeace Arctic director Jon Burgwald’s claim that indigenous sealing was “sustainable,” saying that the organization is “giving comfort to the seal butchers in supporting one of the most brutal and bloody mass massacres of wildlife on the planet.”

Speaking to MSNBC last year, Burgwald said that Greenpeace’s campaigning against the seal fur industry in the 1970s and 1980s was aimed at commercial sealing in Canada, but had a negative impact on indigenous sealing.

Burgwald said Greenpeace supports indigenous sealing today as it is sustainable and uses all of the animal’s parts for food and clothing.

Currently, only seal products harvested by indigenous peoples are allowed to be sold in the EU.

Canada announced Thursday a CA$5.7 million five-year investment in developing the indigenous sealing industry.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans claim the harvest of seals is sustainable, with a seal population now six times greater than that of 1970.

Watson was part of a group of protesters that evolved into Greenpeace in the early 70s.

Greenpeace have distanced themselves from Watson since he was voted off the Board of Directors in 1977 after he condemned Greenpeace’s interpretation of nonviolence.

“I find it abhorrent to see a whale being slaughtered and do nothing but bear witness,” Watson said in the documentary “Pirate for the Sea”.

In the letter, Watson claims Greenpeace’s change of attitude on seals could spread to other activities: “How long before Greenpeace endorses the illegal whaling operations by Japan, which they still raise funds for campaigns that they never actually do?”

Greenpeace deny claims that Paul was a founder of the organization on their website, despite being part of the original Sierra Club anti-nuclear protest group that evolved into the organization in 1971.

After leaving the organization, Watson founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), taking to the seas to use “direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas.”

They were the subject of the Animal Planet series “Whale Wars”.

The organization has come under fire for its tactics, including colliding with a Japanese whaling ship despite an injunction to stay 500 yards away.

SSCS agreed to pay US$2.55 million to two Japanese whaling organizations after a legal settlement.

A former supporter, businessman Ady Gil, is also bringing a lawsuit against Watson and the SSCS after he claims Watson ordered the destruction of his high-speed boat to make it look like the work of a Japanese whaling ship.

Who else remembers this event? The Ady Gil sliced in two. Previously known as the Earthrace, this boat held the world record for circumnavigating the globe. It's name was changed to Ady Gil and went down to help out Sea Shepherd in Operation Waltzing Matilda. As soon as it got down to the whaling grounds, it launched a stealth attack on the Shonan Maru 2. The Captain of the Shonan Maru 2 never forgot that. Later on in the season, it found the Nisshin Maru. The orders were simple: harass the Nisshin Maru as much as possible untill the Bob Barker catches up to tail the Nisshin Maru. Once the Ady Gil had completed it's task, (and had run out of fuel), they lay dead in the water, waiting for the Steve Irwin to come and refuel them. 3 harpooner ships past by. The last ship to pass was the Shonan Maru. Suddenly, the Shonan Maru 2 altered it course to head directly towards the Ady Gil. Then this happened. The Ady Gil had been split in two. Water gushed in. A mayday was put out and the Bob Barker assisted and rescued the crew. 1 member suffered rib injuries. Pete Bethune's 3 million dollar vessel had been deliberately rammed, and now was sinking. Notice in the photo the difference in damage on the Ady Gil, and the Shonan Maru 2. The Ady Gil's nose is completed gone, and the the pontoons are shredded. The Shonan Maru on the other hand, hasn't even got a scratch on its hull. This is what happens when a 1000 ton ship meets a 14 ton boat. This is what happens when steel meets carbon fibre. In the end, no charges were laid against the Shonan Maru 2's captain. Smh 😔

A photo posted by This is our Planetary Duty. (@planetaryduty) on