As many of you know, I’ve been working on a film for the last few years as a sequel to CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-TERRORIST, a passion-project I started that became a major part of my life and a movie that has been seen by millions of people all over the world. The original film did well to re-direct dialogue about the “T” word being thrown around at eco-activists; like sexual misconduct accusations are today. Hey, I was known as the eco-monk, so I have absolutely no issues there… Thank God.
Now for the subject at hand: I’ve been involved with ocean conservation since I was a child on Cape Cod. After I moved to California as a TV Producer, I found myself lucky enough to hook up with Paul Watson, Al Johnson, and Bob Hunter… all early eco-activists. This was 1981. As a Producer for the number one rated NBC television program “Real People”, I was a perfect fit to cover the activities of a small group of very special activists hoping to save the oceans. Lucky us… we were there for the birth of the modern media world.
Paul Watson had recently left Greenpeace under some minor rule violation… some say thrown out by a lawyer scared of his activism. He claims the lawyer said: “You obviously do not know what Greenpeace is all about!” He formed Sea Shepherd to be able to stay active and not only continue his mission, but make it more powerful, efficient and effective. This is his claim, and I believe him. Let’s face it; lawyers are like bad parents just there to tell you why not to do things, and why to abide by a bunch of stupid rules. I know, I know… they keep you out of trouble, but we were out to change the world…and so we did, and continue to do so.
I was told Sea Shepherd’s Rule #1 was no lawyers on the board of directors. The second rule that won me over was: you had to have gone on a campaign to be eligible to be a director. My “active” political participation was ignored by my boss, George Schlatter, a TV and film legend, but also an unknown eco-hero… He broadcast the first major “hero” piece on the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society (SSCS) in the early 1980s. Big deal you say? Back then 40-50 million people watched every week. George broadcast stories I did on Paul twice, and brought him on-air live both times. This was a big deal. A huge deal!
I actually got busted covering Paul in Japan in 1981 for George. This is a story for another day, but I became hooked on what we could accomplish. It was very clear to me on how useful my services could be for the growing cause of conservation. I was very heavily involved in many of the early campaigns, and handled all media with a photographer named Mark Gaede back in the day. Gaede bought the first flag and T-shirts and the rest is history. After what seemed like a blip in time, because of our tactics, the camera, and television broadcasts worldwide, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society became known all over the globe, as a major force, fighting for the good of the planet.
I resigned from the Board of Directors in 1992 along with directors Sue Rodrigues-Pasture and Myra Finklestein when the good Captain wanted to pay his then girl-friend Lisa De Stephano. None of us but Paul could see Lisa’s talents, and to pay her… for what services? I look back at this day to my never being “all in” again. This directors’ meeting was held at Nat’s café in Santa Monica California. Sea Shepherd was an all-volunteer organization at that time. Now I understand basic pay for services, but I also believe the fight cannot be taken to the enemy without real volunteer activists. At the time offices like SSCS maintain today were for Greenpeace.
I spent the next years on my mission to save the oceans… sometimes with SSCS, sometimes not. I often say in my talks that I’ve been thrown out of the Sea Shepherd organization 4 times… until I resigned officially this summer. Through the years, I continued to help Paul with campaigns I thought important. My position with the Society has been spotty, but Paul was like a brother, godfather to my children and visa versa…. Looking back, a kind of shitty brother… as he never once stuck up for me against any number of tactical, and/or money disputes with any number of ex-wives and girl friends…and so on and so forth.
How could I take it for so many years, you might ask?
Well I think if you research my history in the eco-movement, you’ll find me animal and eco-issue-oriented. I could give a damn about the politics of this group or that. I called a spade a spade and tried to win for the oceans. I do this today. When I was recently removed as captain, and replaced as campaign leader on the 2017 Virus Hunter Campaign for being too aggressive and uncompromising… really… I have the email! I travelled to British Columbia and did my own thing. Today I am involved in the Skeena River management on behalf of the Gitxsan people as they fight for total territorial sovereignty.
I feel it is everyone’s duty to do what they feel is important. I’ve been involved in the “salmon issue” longer then SSCS and 100% support their actions, assisting Dr. Alex Morton. I think Alex and the First Nations warriors should get everyone’s support (www.alexandramorton.ca)
These actions will continue and I hope SSCS will continue to support Dr.Morton’s efforts to get salmon farms out of BC. I will continue to work toward that end with the resources at hand.
For the last few years I was lucky enough to become associated with legendary Conservationist Doug Tompkins. Doug’s untimely death has set me on my own path. Doug will still be remembered in one thousand years time long after little pirates like Peter Brown and Paul Watson are forgotten. http://www.tompkinsconservaion.org
Doug felt that some times to progress as humans, we must do a 360 degree turn and look back to the future… The future of sustainable local food and resources…
My new film looks at this very subject. Does more money and progress win out when we become them, and allow corporate branding to squash the very innovative approach that got us this far? My 30 year involvement in the “Branding fight” between Paul Watson and Greenpeace taught me one thing:
BRANDING KILLS WILDLIFE , while enriching individual entrepreneurs, and allowing populations to be brainwashed by controlling media and press.
This is straight out of the book of FASCISM 101…. Hitler did it best, and where did that leave the world?
I was brought up to QUESTION AUTHORITY… I suggest the time is now. Today eco-groups living inside their little social media bubbles are becoming ego-groups. Supporters need to ask what is really getting done?
I am continuing to develop a project I started with Doug, GAIANetwork.net . It is a step back to throw support to the grassroots organizations.
Perhaps the Greenpeace way of doing nothing and depending on the “feel good” money factor to let them continue to bitch… maybe Sea Shepherd’s new approach of signing on with, in my opinion, dubious third world governments to attempt projects the governments aren’t willing to do themselves; if this is your thing.
Go for it! I will take a different path.
President Eisenhower when he retired and warned America: “beware the industrial military complex”, America should have listened. As an ocean activist continuing a life long cause I say to all: “beware the corporatization of activism”.
I have fought hard to keep the visual history of the eco movement free to all to use and peruse. If Sea Shepherd or any other eco-corporation tries to control “the story” beware. If you want the public to believe and follow, then turn on the cameras and let your actions speak for themselves. Good actions, good press. Forget the exclusivity and let those who made history tell it. CONFESSIONS II: “we have met the enemy…” addresses just this. I think the discussion will lead to others see the light and continue the fight where it does most good.
I guess what I want to say as the year comes to an end and you are looking for solid eco-donations… look local. Projects and small groups close to your home. If you want the T-shirt and all the PR material from coffee cups to beer coolers, I can’t save you… but if the group has a larger “e-commerce” then “operations page … then I advise that you are spending more on salaries then results. Look for and promote results. I’ve been promoting Orca Protection & Rescu, but there are good groups and individuals out there if you look. You might not get the cool T-shirt as seen on TV, but you’ll get the results.
For Wild Oceans!
This week a year ago my worst nightmares all came true as The Sea Shepherd Society sued me to stop release of my new film. They now claimed exclusivity on the film library I only recently donated to SSCS. I have had to hire a lawyer to get the rights back to my footage so I can use it to tell the real story and express opinions of any, and all involved… unbelievable! Sea Shepherd was acting with some sort of cult mentality. Their actions have turned off many original activists and all who question the emperor get canned, or so it seems.
Today I can say that we settled and the film will be released! A great big never mind… Never mind?? Really?
If you have opinions and want to keep involved, join us. We won’t pay you, but your passions will be acknowledged and supported. Although Mr. Watson appears to be trying to secure a legacy he really doesn’t fully deserve, I hope his present supporters who believe the myth will take a few minutes to look at their financials and decide for yourselves. They , too, are welcome.
As the 60 foot super Sea Shepherd yacht “ALCHEMY” sails south for the winter, The gaianetwork.net boat the Wii Seeks remains in Friday Harbor to start working to protect the Southern Resident Orcas come spring. Every dollar we raise will be spent on enforcement.
The fate of the planet and all who live on it is up to you and me; to all of us. Whatever your talent is, utilize it – as everyone is unique and your personal abilities and passions put to good use is what makes a positive difference.
Keep on fighting the good fight.