Captain Paul Watson battles Japanese whalers to save the oceans from further bloodshed
By Darrah Le Montre
LOS ANGELES, CA (Hollywood Today) 6/08/09 – In the Hollywood Hills last weekend celebs appeared in droves to raise money for “Whale Wars” star Paul Watson and his organization Sea Shepherd. The controversial battle between the government of Australia, Japanese fisherman and animal advocates continue as die-hard activists try to salvage ocean life.
With strong alliances in the entertainment community that harvests financial support from sympathetic artists as varied as Red Hot Chili Pepper’s singer Anthony Kiedis, Leona Lewis, Emily Deschanel, Richard Dean Anderson, renowned music producer Rick Rubin (everyone from Metallica to Johnny Cash) and Australian art-rock band The Red Paintings. The non-profit Sea Shepherd is determined to garner a new $1M boat.
Captain Paul Watson told Hollywood Today, “I was one of the co-founders of Green Peace and I got tired of protesting. I wanted an organization that would intervene while upholding the law…We’ve never been convicted of a crime, we’ve never injured anybody and the reason we’ve never been convicted…after sinking ten whaling ships and destroying millions of dollars worth of equipment is we’re actually going against criminal operations…We’re actually an anti-poaching organization.”
Animal Planet’s second season of “Whale Wars” premiered June 5th despite the recent confiscation of raw footage by the Australian police. The seven-part, hour-long weekly series follows the crew of Sea Shepherd’s vessel, the Steve Irwin, documenting “non-violent direct action techniques,” says Captain Watson. The first season of “Whale Wars” was viewed by 1M people each week and broke into the top ten rated shows on basic cable in its finale.
The father of a 29-year old daughter, Watson admits his life is anything but normal. “I’m at sea half the year.” He explains what makes this unorthodox lifestyle worth it. “Our ultimate goal is to enforce international regulation.” With extensive celebrity backing, he informs “what people like about Sea Shepherd is that they can see results…by the number of whales saved.”
Despite lofty donations by Kiedis and others totaling $250,000 over the years, what the group yearns for, and the basis of these benefits, is to ascertain better equipment. Namely they want a new, faster super-ship to go against the considerably larger Japanese harpoon whaling vessels.
Trash McSweeney, lead singer for The Red Paintings who last toured with The Dresden Dolls, is an avid supporter of Sea Shepherd. Currently mixing his latest album in Nashville, McSweeney told Hollywood Today of his alliance with Paul Watson. “We really connected. I think he connected with me because I was this guy that just went ‘I don’t care what everyone’s trying to tell me to do.’ And he does stuff that’s real so there was a connection. I built a show in Brisbane that was all about their journey. I had human canvases as whales…The band is about art, music, theatrics, a message — on one stage.”
Also guardians of other ocean wildlife including seals, Watson says he’s “conservative” in his seemingly extreme ways to protect animal exploitation. He suggests volunteering for those who are hesitant to dock a ship.
Rory Freedman, author of best-selling diet book “Skinny Bitch,” says, “I think people are really blown away when they watch the show. I don’t think anybody could watch what’s happening to these whales and not be.”
The international organization with headquarters in Malibu has been around since 1977, but Paul Watson has been an animal advocate for 40 years. Two documentaries about Sea Shepherd were on the film festival circuit last year. “Pirate for the Sea” is Captain Watson’s life-story and premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in CITY. “At the Edge of the World” debuted at the Toronto Film Festival and documents Sea Shepherd’s 2006-2007 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, whose existence balanced on the help of over 50 volunteers.
Fans of the luxurious bath products LUSH will be happy to know that this cruelty-free company is stepping up on behalf of shark-lovers everywhere. LUSH Australia/New Zealand launched the company’s global anti-shark-finning campaign in August 2008 with a new aptly-shaped product “Shark Fin Soap,” whose proceeds benefit Sea Shepherd’s worldwide efforts to save sharks.
Tim Webber, devotee and volunteer of Sea Shepherd has been giving money and “participating any way whatsoever” since the early-90s. He explains, “Every year the Japanese government sponsors a whaling expedition to Antarctica, namely the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. This is an area in the Southern Ocean twice the size of the United States where approximately 80% of the world’s whales congregate. And pretty much every country on the Earth has said it’s for the whales, but for some reason the Japanese government continues to sponsor what they call a research mission where they attempt to catch endangered, threatened whales.”
For more information on Sea Shepherd, visit: www.seashepherd.org.