Thursday, June 4, 1998
One of the most cynical eyes watching the self-congratulatory formation of the National Ocean Conference is that of Capt. Paul Watson, a radical ocean activist who helped found Greenpeace before pursuing an even more bold activist agenda with Sea Shepherd, ramming his ship into whaling boats, among other activities.
"The conference is a joke, a total joke," Watson said. "It''s just an excuse for organizations to justify their existence."
While the experts discuss the oceans in Monterey, Watson will be on his boat investigating reports of the illegal killing of manatees off the coast of Belize and preparing for his pirate-like efforts to stop the Makah Tribe of Washington from harvesting five gray whales off the Pacific Coast in October, something it is doing not only with the blessing of the US government, but with a $250,000 grant from the Department of Commerce (ironically, one of the conference sponsors.)
"They can talk all they want," Watson says, "but I''ll be on the high seas doing something."
This whaling authorization has come despite international treaties banning whaling, treaties that Watson says have been dangerously compromised by the Clinton administration, which has failed to enforce US laws banning all trading with whaling countries, such as Norway and Japan. He sees the high profile Clinton administration support of the conference as the height of hypocrisy.
"They want to be perceived as the good guys, and holding a conference is a pretty cheap way to go," he says.
Watson said halting trade with Japan and Norway would force them to stop allowing whaling, but Clinton refuses to take that stand, writing letters of condemnation while at the same time writing waivers to US policy on whaling.
"Whaling could be ended by the stroke of the president''s pen," Watson said. "But instead, it''s just business as usual."
-- S. Jones