ActivistCash Profiles Pirate

We’re pleased to unveil our newest profile — on the group that gave some of the animal-rights movement’s most infamous terrorists their start: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS). The group’s founder and president, “Captain” Paul Watson, is one of the fathers of environmental terrorism. Even Greenpeace, a group he helped to found, booted him for being too violent. Watson has been jailed numerous times and is currently under investigation in Costa Rica for attempted murder, according to a 2002 article in The Tico Times, Central America’s foremost English-language newspaper. Last year Watson told a group of animal-rights zealots that activists “really can’t be too overly preoccupied” by the possibility that their violent tactics could cause human death. Here are a few selected sections from the new profile:

SSCS’s mission is to stop fishing of which it disapproves. Its preferred methods? Ramming and sinking fishing ships, throwing butyric acid on their decks, and firing machine guns. Watson argues that United Nations resolutions authorize him to commit violent acts. But he regularly interferes with fisherman and hunters who are committing no crime. He serves as judge, jury, and executioner — while enjoying the same tax-exempt status as universities and churches.

The ships are fitted with water cannons, a concrete-filled bow made for ramming, and an attachment dubbed the “can opener” that can tear open a boat’s hull. In his book Earth Warrior, David Morris writes that Watson wears a long bowie knife at his side and carries AK-47s on board. He blasts Richard Wagner’s rousing “Ride of the Valkyries” to herald his arrival and terrify his victims.

Soon after Watson’s eviction from Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd and its ship-ramming philosophy were born. SSCS’s band of pirates have disrupted the legal Canadian seal hunt, attacked whaling ships and fishing boats using driftnets, and taken credit for spiking (inserting large nails into) thousands of trees. The group has sunk at least ten ships in Iceland, Norway, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, and the Canary Islands. Watson has even sunk his own ships rather than let the authorities take them. And he has spent time in the jails of Canada and the Netherlands. “Any whaling ship on the ocean is a target for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society,” he has said.

Watson claims to have invented tree spiking, whereby activists hammer large nails into trees about to be logged in an effort to hurt lumberjacks. Watson claims the group has spiked over 20,000 trees. In 1987, a California mill worker was horribly disfigured after his blade struck two spikes in a tree, almost severing his jugular vein.

Rodney Coronado has long been involved with criminal groups such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), which the FBI has identified as the country’s most dangerous domestic terrorist threat, and the special-interest ALF subset known as SHAC. He was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for the 1992 arson of a Michigan State University research laboratory. He admitted to at least six other arsons in a November 30, 2002 speech. In January 2003, he demonstrated to a group gathered at American University the “correct” way to build a firebomb out of household materials. And Paul Watson gave him his start.

Ultimately, Watson advocates the total shutdown of the global fishery industry. “There is only one solution to the problem of over-fishing and the collapse of the fisheries worldwide,” reads one Sea Shepherd press release. “The answer is simply to say ‘no to fish.'” — profiling the crimes, cash, extremism, and cynical power plays of anti-consumer activist groups — will continue to grow in the coming months.

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