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Sea Shepherd: A Movement for Marine Wildlife Conservation with Captain Paul Watson

'Watson' documentary movie with Captain Paul Watson

Earth is humanity's home. However, it is also home to millions of different species of organisms. Each organism plays an essential role in maintaining the balance of the world's ecosystems, including marine wildlife. Many marine species are at risk—either threatened, endangered, or extinct. We, as a collective, have the power to make a difference by protecting and conserving marine wildlife.

In this episode, eco-activist Captain Paul Watson joins us to talk about taking direct action to protect the environment, particularly the world's oceans. He discusses his experiences in activism and his strategy called aggressive nonviolence, which he employs to effect change. Paul also shares his thoughts and motivations for starting the movement Sea Shepherd, after having co-founded Greenpeace in 1972.

If you’re interested to learn more about Paul’s experiences and his journey with Sea Shepherd, this episode is for you!

3 reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Gain a new perspective on eco-activism with Paul Watson as he discusses the work of his organization Sea Shepherd and the the three laws of ecology.

  2. Learn the importance of marine wildlife protection and conservation in contributing to the bigger picture of humanity's existence.

  3. Understand how aggressive nonviolence is a strategy you can employ in engaging in environmental activism.


Episode Highlights

[05:35] Paul Watson’s Background

  • Paul has been a leader in environmental activism since the '70s. He was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace.

  • He left Greenpeace because he felt that despite organizing protests, nothing had changed.

  • Paul then founded Sea Shepherd in 1977 as an anti-poaching organization.

  • Sea Shepherd shut down many illegal activities using its aggressive nonviolence strategy.

[08:19] The Challenges of Protesting

  • Paul Watson sees protests as a submissive act that often creates little to no change.

  • There is a possibility that protesters, particularly young people, may face criminal charges for civil disobedience.

  • Paul has faced various criminal charges while intervening against illegal activity. Fortunately, these incidents were caught on film, and the charges were dropped.

  • He has also faced extradition requests from Japan and was placed on the Interpol Red Notice.

  • Although his charges were minor, he remained on the list, restricting his ability to travel.

[12:47] Paul’s Motivation in Engaging in Eco-activism

  • Paul experienced two incidents that shaped his approaches to eco-activism.

  • First was an experience with trappers. After which, Paul worked hard to protect animals. He became the youngest co-founder of Greenpeace at 18 years old.

  • The second was his experience with saving a whale. One of their strategies followed Gandhi's writings. Unfortunately, it didn't work, and the whale they were protecting died. Its dying moments had an impact on Paul's life mission.

Paul: “I said to myself, here we are killing this incredibly beautiful, intelligent, complex, self-aware sentient being for the purpose of making a weapon meant for the mass extermination of human beings. Then it just hit me—we are insane. From that moment on, I said, ‘I ain't doing this for people, I'm doing it for them.” - Click Here To Tweet This
  • From then on, Paul’s strategies and actions were for the animals he aimed to protect.

[17:32] Founding Sea Shepherd

  • Following those incidents, Paul left Greenpeace because its bureaucracy hindered his goals. He founded Sea Shepherd in 1977 after leaving.

  • Paul didn't want to just protest. He wanted direct action.

Paul: "I can't deal with this bearing witness and doing nothing. You don't walk down the street and see a woman being raped and take pictures and hang banners. Watch a dog being kicked to death, and take pictures and hang banners, and you don't stand there and watch a whale die and do nothing." - Click Here To Tweet This
  • Despite Paul's travel restrictions, the organization continued its campaigns as an international movement.

[20:16] The Three Laws of Ecology

  • The three laws of ecology include the law of diversity, interdependence, and finite resources. Each law affects one another.

  • The first law states that diversity affects the strength of the ecosystem. Second, all species are interdependent. Lastly, limited resources also limit growth.

  • Unfortunately, humanity is in an anthropocentric bubble that focuses on only humans.

  • Paul compares the Earth to a spaceship. The crew of species supports life on Earth and provides necessities. Humans are the passengers that negatively impact the crew and the ship.

  • The destruction of ecosystems and life systems on Earth disrupts the system and leads to problems.

[23:35] Fearing Death

  • Death has never really bothered Paul. He's prepared to take risks.

  • Death is humanity's ultimate fear. Being free from the fear of death allows you to take action.

  • At one point, everyone dies. Accepting death helps you realize that what matters is how you live your life.

[25:19] Time to Rest

  • In his downtime, Paul writes poetry. However, there is no need for rest from what he does for him.

  • As a volunteer medic, Paul realized he had to do the right thing at the right time and place.

  • Harness your passion, courage, and imagination to find impossible answers to impossible problems.

[26:55] Politics and Change

  • Historically, politics hasn't been able to solve problems.

  • Often, politicians talk about change but don't take action for fear of losing support.

  • Many people want change to occur, but they are unwilling to change personally.

[29:16] Having Hope and Anger

  • Paul isn’t an angry person. He prefers to stay calm to get through the situations he faces.

  • He doesn’t look for hope and instead focuses on the present.

  • We can learn from indigenous cultures. Understand that we are part of everything and not above it.

[31:08] What You Can Do

  • Focus on where your abilities lie to make the world a better place.

  • Use your passion to harness courage and imagination. Use a personalized way to approach a problem.

Paul: “Don't be deterred by criticism. Follow your path. Do what you can with your abilities, and go for it.” - Click Here To Tweet This
  • Young people understand the problem and have the imagination. They are often discouraged by the educational system from harnessing it.

About Paul

Captain Paul Watson is an eco-activist, co-founder of Greenpeace, and founder of Sea Shepherd. With Sea Shepherd, he passionately works to take direct action to protect and conserve marine wildlife. Working with coastal and island governments, they deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing that threatens the oceans.

Paul is also a published author with books such as Earthforce! An Earth Warrior's Guide to Strategy and Urgent! Save Our Ocean to Survive Climate Change, among others. Sea Shepherd has also been the subject of the television show Whale Wars.

Learn more about Captain Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd on their website.

Enjoyed this Episode?

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