Paul Watson

Captain Paul Watson

Founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Founding Director, Greenpeace Foundation


Captain Paul Watson to host Sea Shepherd fundraising Event
18th November 2008 - Sydney, Australia

Terri Irwin and Paul Watson

"I have been honored to serve the whales, dolphins, seals – and all the other creatures on this Earth. Their beauty, intelligence, strength, and spirit have inspired me. These beings have spoken to me, touched me, and I have been rewarded by friendship with many members
of different species.

If the whales survive and flourish, if the seals continue to live and give birth, and if I can contribute to ensuring their future prosperity, I will be forever happy."

- Paul Watson
Captain Paul Watson
Founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Founding Director, Greenpeace Foundation

Paul Watson was born in Canada on December 2, 1950. He was raised in the lobster fishing town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea in New Brunswick. He is the eldest of seven children. His father was Anthony Joseph Watson, a French Canadian born in New Brunswick, Canada. His mother
was Annamarie Larsen, the daughter of a Danish artist, Otto Larsen, and Canadian, Doris Phoebe Clark.

In 1960, Paul was a member of the Kindness Club, founded by Aida Flemming in New Brunswick. After trappers killed one of his beaver friends, Paul set out, at the age of nine, to confiscate and destroy leg-hold traps. He was also known to disrupted deer and duck hunters, and to prevent other boys from shooting birds.

In 1968, Paul joined the Canadian Coast Guard. His first ship was the weathership C.C.G.S. Vancouver. In 1969, Paul joined the crew of the Norwegian bulk carrier Bris on a voyage to Asia and Africa. Early voyages with the Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish, and British merchant marine provided him with experience on all the world's oceans, including weathering typhoons in the South China Sea, North Atlantic storms in the iceberg-strewn northern latitudes of the Atlantic and navigating the war zones of the Persian Gulf. He served in the Canadian Coast Guard for two years in the early seventies on weatherships, buoy tenders and on a search and rescue hovercraft.

Paul Watson was one of the co-founders of the Greenpeace Foundation. His involvement began with a Sierra Club protest on the U.S. and Canadian border in October 1969, against the nuclear testing at Amchitka Island by the Atomic Energy Commission.

A few of the participants from the protest organized a small group to work on ideas to oppose the testing at Amchitka. The group was called the Don't Make a Wave Committee and was composed primarily of members from the Sierra Club and the Society of Friends (Quakers). Paul was a Sierra Club member and his motivation to protest the Amchitka testing was his concern for marine wildlife at Amchitka.

In October 1971, the Don't Make a Wave Committee sponsored the voyage of the Greenpeace I.

The Greenpeace I was an 85' Canadian fishing boat known as the Phyllis Cormack. The ship set forth from Vancouver, British Columbia, bound for Amchitka Island, (under the command of Captain John Cormack), with the intention of sailing into the test site. There were thirteen
volunteers on board including Robert Hunter, Rod Marining and Lyle Thurston. Three decades later, these three would still be sailing with Captain Watson on Sea Shepherd campaigns.

The test was delayed and the Greenpeace I, after a month at sea, headed back to Vancouver.

In the meantime, a second ship was organized. This was the converted Canadian minesweeper the Edgewater Fortune. She was named the Greenpeace Too. One of her crew was Paul Watson.

The Greenpeace Too passed the Greenpeace I near Campbell River and carried on north to Alaska - first to Juneau, and then outward bound across the Gulf of Alaska to the Aleutians.

The nuclear test had been delayed to foil the voyage of the Greenpeace I, however, the U.S. Atomic Energy Committee advanced the next blast date to avoid the Greenpeace Too.

The five-megaton explosion was detonated under Amchitka Island when the Greenpeace Too was still a few hundred miles away.

The controversy the Greenpeace voyages generated led to the decision to cancel further tests, and the detonation of November 1971 was the last nuclear test to take place at Amchitka.

In 1972, the Don't Make a Wave Committee took the name of the two ships from the first campaign and renamed themselves the Greenpeace Foundation.

Paul Watson was one of the founding members and directors of Greenpeace. In fact, he was officially the eighth founding member. Robert Hunter was the first and his lifetime membership number was 000. His wife Roberta Hunter was second and her membership number was 001. Paul Watson's official membership number was and continues to be 007.

In 1972, Paul Watson skippered the tiny Greenpeace boat Astral, and placed it on a collision course with the French helicopter carrier, the Jeanne D'Arc, in Vancouver harbor. This was a protest against French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific. The Jeanne D'Arc was forced to change course. The Astral changed course and kept on target - bow to bow with the warship, forcing the Jeanne D'Arc to stop.

In 1973, Watson and David Garrick represented Greenpeace during the occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota by the American Indian Movement. Both men served as volunteers for AIM, with Watson working with the medics and filing stories back to Robert Hunter at the Vancouver Sun.

In 1974, Robert Hunter, Dr. Paul Spong, Paul Watson and others organized the first campaign by Greenpeace to oppose whaling.

In 1975, Watson served as First officer under Captain John Cormack on the voyage to confront the Soviet Whaling fleet. In June 1975, Robert Hunter and Paul Watson were the first people to put their lives on the line to protect whales when Paul placed his inflatable Zodiac between a Russian harpoon vessel and a pod of defenseless Sperm whales. During this confrontation with the Russian whaler, a harpooned and dying sperm whale loomed over Paul's small boat. Paul recognized a flicker of understanding in the dying whale's eye. He felt that the whale knew what they were trying to do. He watched as the magnificent leviathan heaved its body away from his boat, slipped beneath the waves and died. A few seconds of looking into this dying whale's eye changed his life forever. He vowed to become a lifelong defender of the whales and all creatures of the seas.

In 1976, Paul served again as First Officer on the voyage of the Greenpeace V. This was the converted Canadian minesweeper James Bay. Once again, the crew confronted the Soviet whaling fleet, this time north of Hawaii.

Soon after the whaling campaign, Paul and David Garrick organized and led the first Greenpeace campaign to protect Harp and Hood seals on the East coast of Canada. During this campaign, Robert Hunter and Paul Watson stopped a large sealing ship in the ice by standing on the ice in its path.

Watson's account of the campaign was published in the Georgia Straight newspaper and entitled Shepherds of the Labrador Front. It is this article that inspired the name Sea Shepherd a few years later.

In 1977, Paul led the 2nd Greenpeace campaign to oppose the seal hunt off the coast of Labrador, this time bringing Brigitte Bardot to the ice floes to focus international attention on the seal slaughter.

In June 1977, Paul Watson resigned from the Greenpeace Foundation because of disagreements with the emerging bureaucratic structure of the organization. Patrick Moore had replaced Robert Hunter and was opposed to direct action campaigns. Moore had informed Watson that he
would not be allowed to lead another seal campaign.

Paul left Greenpeace because he felt the original goals of the organization were being compromised, and because he saw a global need to continue direct action conservation activities on the high seas by an organization that would enforce laws protecting marine wildlife.

To answer that need, that same year, Paul founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - dedicated to research, investigation and enforcement of laws, treaties, resolutions and regulations established to protect marine wildlife worldwide. In December 1978, with the assistance of the Fund for Animals, Paul purchased a North Atlantic trawler in Britain and converted her into the conservation enforcement vessel Sea Shepherd.

Over the years, Paul has exhibited a remarkable diversity in his activism. Aside from being a co-founder of Greenpeace in 1972 and Greenpeace International in 1979 and founder of Sea Shepherd in 1977, Paul was a Field Correspondent for Defenders of Wildlife between 1976 and 1980. He was a field representative for the Fund for Animals between 1978 and 1981, and a representative for the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals in 1979. He co-founded Friends of the Wolf in 1984 and the Earthforce Environmental Society in 1977. Paul's first affiliation with the Sierra Club was in 1968 and he has remained a Sierra Club supporter ever since. In April 2003, Paul was elected to the National Board of the Sierra Club USA. He will be a director until 2006.

Paul majored in communications and linguistics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He has lectured extensively at universities around the world, and was a professor of Ecology at Pasadena College of Design from 1990 through to 1994. Paul also was an instructor in UCLA's Honors Program for 1998 and 1999. Currently, Paul is a registered speaker with the Jodi Solomon Speakers Bureau of Boston, and regularly gives presentations at colleges and universities
in the United States, and at special events throughout world.

On the political front, Paul has run for Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre in the Canadian Federal elections. He ran twice for the Green Party. He also ran on the Green Party ticket for Vancouver Parks Board in 1987 and for Mayor of Vancouver in 1995.

Paul has received many awards and commendations over the years. In 1996, Paul was awarded an honorary citizenship to the French town of St. Jean Cap Ferrat. Previous to that he was made an honorary citizen of the Florida Keys in 1989. Other awards include Toronto City TV's Environmentalist of the Year Award for 1990, the Genesis Award in 1998 and he was enrolled in the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2002. He was also awarded the George H. Bush Daily Points of Light Award in 1999 for his volunteer efforts with conservation activism. He was
chosen by Time Magazine as one of the environmental heroes of the 20th Century in the year 2000.

Venice, CA
Daily Point of Light No. 1404
June 22, 1999

Paul Watson is a prolific author. His titles include: Shepherds of the Sea* (1979), Sea Shepherd: My Fight for Whales and Seals* (1982), Cry Wolf* (1985), Earthforce! (1993), Ocean Warrior (1994) and Seal Wars (2002).

*These books are out of print, and can only be found via book-finding services.

Paul has served as Master and Commander on seven different Sea Shepherd ships since 1978. He currently commands the 657-ton Canadian-registered research ship Farley Mowat and the
Canadian-registered research and patrol ship Sirenian. He continues to lead Sea Shepherd Conservation Society campaigns to protect defenseless marine wildlife around the world.

Paul is married to Allison Lance Watson. He has one child, Lilliolani Paula Lum Watson, (born in 1980), from a previous marriage. (Credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society).



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Media Man Australia was delighted to meet and interview Paul Watson at the launch of Bluetongue Beer