by Michael dEstries
Categories: Causes
Tags: .

In light of the newly revealed “Blackfish” organization cutting nets holding dolphins in Taiji earlier this week, Captain Paul Watson has written an article clarifying what little the Sea Shepherd know about the European conservation group.

“Who and what is blackfish? We do not know,” writes Watson. “In fact, until the report that dolphin holding pen nets had been cut in Taiji harbour and a release to that effect was posted, we had never heard of this group.”

What’s odd about this statement is that all of the Blackfish co-founders: Arne Feuerhahn, Christine Bindal, and Wietse van der Werf — are current (as of this summer) Sea Shepherd crew members. Even more revealing is the fact that the crew of the Sea Shepherd on the ship MV Bob Barker posed for a photo back in late August holding up a banner supporting a then-current Blackfish campaign.

So yes, we’re pretty sure the Sea Shepherd have heard of Blackfish.

Regardless, Watson is attempting to distance the Sea Shepherd from the net-cutting so that the media (and Japanese fishermen) do not confuse the actions of one for the other.

“The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society believes that opposition to the slaughter of the dolphins in Taiji must include a diversity of approaches,” writes Watson. “We support all groups opposed to this slaughter and it is not up to us to judge, to condone nor condemn the methods of other groups and individuals. The mission of Scott and Elora West in Taiji is to observe, document and report. Sea Shepherd has no intention of committing any illegal actions at Taiji.”

SS may not have a hand in any future illegal actions in Taiji — but conveniently, they have a group in Blackfish that’s not bound by such mission statements. If Paul Watson and Co. really don’t want people mixing Sea Shepherd up with Blackfish, they may want to do a better job of making that clearer online. To start with, Wietse van der Werf may want to change his Twitter profile bio. (Update 10/1: Wietse has updated his profile to read “former Sea Shepherd crew member”)

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • mister jingles

    long life to captain paul watson and his crew!!!!!!!!!

  • don miguelo

    Stop aquariums from paying as much as 154,000 per dolphin. Stop the demand, the supply has no reason to exist.

    • David

      So they capture and kill dolphins to sell to zoos and aquariums? That doesn’t make sense.

      It seems that killing dolphins and capturing dolphins are two separate acts that happen to be being done by the same group. I don’t see how one causes the other, especially since they have been killing dolphins since before zoos and aquariums existed.

      How will stopping the capture for sale affect the killing for food? Or conversely, how will the stopping of killing for food affect the capture for sale?

      • don miguelo

        They take some and send them to aquariums, until they meet the quota of that demand. The rest they kill and make into food. Not as lucrative but it’s what they do.

        You don’t see how stopping the demand for dolphins in aquariums would stop the fishermen from supplying them? I thought you were perceptive, seems a fairly easy concept to me.

        I didn’t say anything about the food element of the equation, you added that to try to make my point not make sense. Maybe I just needed to clarify, and now that you can see what I meant, you’ll understand. Everyone makes mistakes.

        And beyond that, I want to say I agree with your point about it being a transparent tactic on your next post. Make a good argument and I will listen.

      • David

        From the website/petition you linked to:
        “The dolphin massacres in Japan will continue for as long as members of the international dolphin display industry reward the fishermen with thousands of dollars for animals that are deemed suitable for commercial exploitation in captivity.”

        So unless you don’t agree with the petition, which would make posting the link, then you do believe that the killing for food and the capture for sale are connected. Just like I said and you want to try and say you didn’t.

        And that proposition is demonstrably false. There have been stories in both of the last two years where they corralled a number of dolphins and kept some to sell and released the rest. And the times they corralled species that are not in demand for sale, so they were obviously were specifically for food.

        So sale and food are not tied together.

        Finally I never said “You don’t see how stopping the demand for dolphins in aquariums would stop the fishermen from supplying them?” I said stopping the capture for sale won’t stop the killing and stopping the killing won’t stop the capture for sale. They are two separate issues.

      • AnimuX

        The same scum who kill thousands of dolphins in Taiji to sell the toxic meat for human consumption also capture dolphins for sale to marine entertainment parks.

        The two exploitative industries are inextricably linked.

      • David

        Sorry you are wrong Animux. If they were linked then stopping one would stop the other. Which obviously isn’t the case.

        That is like saying if someone goes to bars to smoke and drink, that if they stop smoking they will also stop drinking.

      • Chris H.

        David, are you being deliberately obtuse, or are you really as poorly informed as you seem to be?

  • David

    It is a fairly standard tactic. The IRA used it, Hamas uses it, many others have or are using it. You just claim some ‘radical’ ‘former’ members of your peace-loving and law-abiding group have broken out on their own to perform these acts that are beyond what your legitimate organization would do. It has even been alleged that Paul Watson and the SSCS have done this in the past through his ex-wife Allison and her ties to ALF and ELF, his other ex-wife Lisa and her ties to O.R.C.A. FORCE and purported ties to a group that spiked trees in the US Northwest.

    It is also very transparent, just an attempt to protect the main group from possible legal action while still having your fingers in on the illegal actions. It also tends to collapse if real legal pressure is ever brought to bear.

    • Michael Raymer

      I don’t agree. Watson wants to make sure that there is no confusion about who does what. The best way to do that is to make the initial move of making it clear that Blackfish is its own organisation. There is ample precedent for this. Back during Season 1 of Whale Wars, Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane boarded a Japanese whaler. The shot from Australian TV showed a Greenpeace symbol rather than an SSCS symbol, thus creating confusion that served neither group.

      The fact that some SSCS members started this group (and I would like to see the source of this as there is no mention of who the founders are on the Blackfish website) is irrelevant. While serving as members of SSCS, they are bound by SSCS guidelines. If they have something “on the side”, that is each individuals business and the business of the host organisation.

      Blackfish is Blackfish, Sea Shepherd is Sea Shepherd. We all know that this concept will be too much to grasp for the “special people”, but the other 98 percent of us should have no problem with it.

      • David

        Well if you are right and 98% of people think that each action of an individual has no relation to previous and future acts by that individual then as a species we are beyond the point of no return.

        There are numerous examples of groups have two or more branches that they try and claim are separate so the main group can claim clean hands while helping the more violent branch. Look at all the ‘charities’ in the US that have been exposed as money conduits to violent groups, from the IRA in the 60’s and 70’s to Hamas today.

      • Michael dEstries


        Here is one source for the founding members:

        It appears that they have removed their names from the page since that was cached.

      • Michael Raymer

        Thanx to Michael dEstries for the link. Double check the names above though. Amber Paarman isn’t listed as a founder.

        To David: Numerous examples? Who cares about numerous examples? We are talking about this example. And since when has SSCS tried to keep their hands clean? The whole point to Sea Shepherd is that they don’t want to keep their hands clean like Greenpeace but want to intervene on behalf of the environment. If SSCS had directed the net sabotage, they would have claimed it. But since it was another group, they don’t want to get tagged for it. As I have said before in other threads, I don’t think the concept is eluding you, I think you’re pulling your usual argumentative crap.

      • Michael dEstries

        Michael, thanks for the heads-up. I must have inadvertently grouped Amber in there. My mistake. I’ve switched in Arne Feuerhahn.

      • David

        “The whole point to Sea Shepherd is that they don’t want to keep their hands clean like Greenpeace but want to intervene on behalf of the environment.”

        Oh really. So that is why they have volunteers in Taiji sitting around watching but not intervening? Because they don’t want to keep their hands clean?

      • Michael Raymer

        How many different directions do you want to go in, over one debate point? A question was asked, a valid answer was given. Now, it’s time for David’s Funhouse where we flail about and try to misdirect the original question. How many times are you going to try this, only to fail? SSCS was not affiliated with the group who cut the nets. Get over it.

      • David

        “SSCS was not affiliated with the group who cut the nets”

        Give some proof and I will get over it.

      • Michael Raymer

        It is the responsibility of the accuser to provide proof. Innocent until proven guilty is a concept that seems to elude you, along with a host of others. And who are you, that proof of anything needs to be offered? Whether you get over it or not is irrelevant. You can’t keep a worthwhile debate going on a website, so I’m not exactly worried about any unknown “powers” you may possess.

    • AnimuX

      Once again we see anti-environmentalist antagonists attempting to falsely compare activists who have never killed or threatened to kill a single human bring to terrorist groups responsible for murdering innocent people.

      The ongoing campaign to demonize environmental activists continues…

  • AnimuX

    Honestly, other than the dolphin butchers in Taiji, who cares who cut the nets.

    I personally hope every person in Japan, foreign and domestic, who opposes the capture and killing of dolphins will head down to Taiji and protest this bloody, despicable, exploitative industry.

    Rush the nets. Cut the nets. Burn what’s left of the nets.

    Free the captive Taiji dolphins. Bring an end to the slaughter.

    • David

      So if something upsets you then violence is the answer?

      So you would be OK if every person in Japan, foreign and domestic, who opposes the SSCS should head down to Taiji and destroy everything that belongs to the SSCS members who are in Taiji ‘observing’? I mean fair to one side of the issue is fair to the other side.

      • m4rk0

        Cutting nets = violence?

        Wow David. You must have earned all of your boy scout badges.

      • David

        Violence – the exercise or an instance of physical force, usually effecting or intended to effect injuries, destruction, etc

        So yes I would say cutting the nets was violence. But if you prefer we can just call it illegal destruction of private property. Is that better?

        Now do you have anything to add to discussion of the topic?

      • AnimuX

        Vandalism to save lives in an act of protest against a truly violent and bloody industry that kills and enslaves some of the most intelligent creatures on earth for the profit of a select few.

      • Bob

        Cattle slaughterhouses? They are legal and well accepted all over the world.

  • Kimitake Hiraoka

    Michael d’Estries!

    Is this an article that dares question the Sea Shepherd line?? Could it possibly be?!

    Maybe we’re making progress here. I’m very excited.

    Although, I see that we’re still referring to the fat man as “Captain”… I know you’re familiar with my feelings on the matter so I shan’t reiterate them. But perhaps rectifying this minor quibble could be our next goal to work on… We can do it – I have faith!

    • Michael Raymer

      Oh my Lord, O Dios Mio, Oh Jeezus Tapdancing Christ, here I am getting ready to agree with Kimitake! If you don’t hear from me for a couple of days, send someone to my house, I’m probably under the coach in a fetal position. Whodathunkit?!? But, what can I say? Kimmy is absolutely correct. Watson should not be referred to as “Captain”. This is a complete misrepresentation and a self-respecting website like Ecorazzi should always strive for truth and accuracy.

      It’s “Admiral” Watson. He commands a fleet, not a single ship. Admiral Watson. Say it with me Kimmy. Ad-Mir-Al Wat-Son. Attaboy. Nicely done.

    • Kimitake Hiraoka

      Surely I cannot be the only one cringing at that…?

  • Mick

    @Michael d’Estries

    “What’s odd about this statement is that all of the Blackfish co-founders: Arne Feuerhahn, Christine Bindal, and Wietse van der Werf — are current (as of this summer) Sea Shepherd crew members. Even more revealing is the fact that the crew of the Sea Shepherd on the ship MV Bob Barker posed for a photo back in late August holding up a banner supporting a then-current Blackfish campaign.”

    I don’t find it odd at all. watson is a habitual liar.

    • Michael Raymer

      Watson was on board the M/Y Steve Irwin, the pic in question was taken on board the M/Y Bob Barker. Connecting the dots for you people gets a little tiresome. Watson may very well have had no knowledge that this pic was taken. He certainly wasn’t in a position to stop it. I also notice that Capt. Chuck Swift was not present in the picture.

      If I was Watson, I’d be chewing some ass right now and showing them the door (and he may very well be, for all we know). This was an incredibly stupid and irresponsible thing for the crew to do. But, as been noted a thousand times, these are volunteers not professionals. Most of them are very young and lack the sound judgement that comes with maturity. This photo is hardly compelling proof about knowledge of, let alone an endorsement of Blackfish by the SSCS chain-of-command.

      • Michael dEstries

        I agree that Watson may not have known about them, however slight a chance that may be, but he used the word “we” in reference to the SS as a whole not knowing, and that just seems unlikely.

      • Michael Raymer

        I think that people should take a breath and take another look at that photo. Seriously, stop reading this and go look at the photo.

        You are a crewmember on the BB, a couple of the others want to snap a pic of a group of you that says, “Stop the Munster Dolphinarium.” You’re a member of SSCS, you hate dolphin parks and you go along with it. Oh yeah, along the bottom of the thing, in smaller print there’s something about supporting Black Fish. What the hell is a black fish? Is that german slang for orcas or something? Who knows? All you know is that as a member of SSCS, you are against “dolphinariums”. So, you pose for a pic. “Click”

        Here we are, convening the Supreme Freakin’ Court over this. Where in the pic does it say “We the members of Sea Shepherd, support the BlackFish Conservation Group and if, in a few months, they decide to go cut some holes in some nets in Japan, we’re going to support that too”? Where does it say that? And who are these people in this oh so incriminating picture? I recognize Benjamin Potts, that’s it. And, (I say this in a good way) Pottsie is going to get involved in anything he can get his hands on. He’s a good man, but he doesn’t speak for SSCS or represent their policies in any way.

        This is just one more tempest in a teapot. One more chance for the Environmental Defamation League to get their cheap shots in. I knew there was a reason why I, originally, didn’t want to get involved in this thread. I read it the first time, my bullshitometer climbed towards the red line and I thought, “Let this one slide.” But no, I just had to come back to it and then make a first post. I really need to start listening to my instincts.

    • Mr Philips

      This remark has been removed due to violation of our commenting policy.

  • Ester

    Just saw the news all over the internet about The Balck Fish.
    I think it is wonderful what they did.
    With these actions they earned my respect and am very proud that they are comming from Europe!
    And all of the crap about being SeaShepherds or not…that doesn’t mather,they were volunteers & as adults they know the risk they took.
    I say: Good for them to free the Dolphins!
    They have got the standards right about life…more than I can say from most people;who are too shallow to look at the world we live today!

  • Mr Philips

    This remark has been removed due to violation of our commenting policy.

  • Nancy

    This remark has been removed due to violation of our commenting policy.

  • Whoever…

    Who cares who cut the nets? Who cares if Sea Shepherd knows them or not?
    I’m glad there are more real activists out there willing to get off their asses and fight back!!
    I’m only interested in finding out if any dolphin got away.

    It’s always the same crap…!
    Large corporations and certain groups can do whatever they wish and everything is just fine!!

    But when environmentalists and animal rights activists use more aggressive methods, then they are instantly labelled terrorists or something like that… WTF!?

    Why can’t we ‘play their game’?

    What gives them the right to rape our planet, destroy our ecosystems and slaughter millions of animals each year while we (the real activists, not the ‘hippie peace-and-love’ pseudo-activists) are not even allowed to fight back?

    Take a good look at Greenpeace (green burocrats) versus Sea Shepherd…

    Hell yes, we must take more aggressive measures in order to fight back and give them some of their own medicine!

    I’m going to laugh out loud in the near future (sooner than you may think) when humanity ‘gets slapped in the face’ like never before. We have dug our own grave!
    Maybe then people will finally awake!

  • From MN, with hope…

    Who cares if Sea Shepherd does or doesn’t know anything about Blackfish? Sea Shepherd is there observing and documenting the slaughter (notice I used slaughter. I have never referred to the whale hunt as a slaughter. That express’ my opinion on this matter.) and passing the word on. Good on Blackfish for cutting the nets. Sure, Sea Shepherd wants to distance themselves from them. As-is the pro-whalers of Japan are violently against them, nothing more to get actions taken against them. Good job Blackfish! Anything to end the Taiji slaughter.

  • Angela

    This article is trying to make a lot of hot air out of nothing, and what’s with the seriously vitriolic tone? It seems like someone already has an anti-sea shepherd chip on their shoulder.
    Really, who cares if Sea Shepherd met some people who are against dolphin slaughter in some country on one of their tours and took a picture with them? Who cares if this black fish guy was a previous sea shepherd crew member? It only makes sense that activits would be involved in multiple organizations trying to make progress on the same kinds of issues.
    The accusatory ‘expose’ sentiment behind this post has commenters comparing sea sheperd to hamas!
    What the post should be doing is celebrating that there are all of these great organizations trying to fight the unethical exploitation and slaughter of innocent species.
    Let’s look at the big picture of what’s really important here and stop being petty or trying to stir up nonsensical trouble.

  • WoodWoorser

    Really? Ecorazzi write one article asking a perfectly reasonable question of Watson’s statement and people go nuts? With all the references online between the Sea Shepherd and Blackfish, it was a silly thing of SS to deny any knowledge of Blackfish. Of course they know of them and Ecorazzi called them on it.

    This website has been promoting the SS and their campaigns for more than two years it’s where I first found out about the group that I continue to support to this day. To criticize them for being anti-Sea Shepherd is just bs.

  • Anonymous

    I am extremely disturbed with the obvious subjective nature of this article, especially coming from Ecorazzi. It really is not a great indicator of the quality of the material that it on this “website”. The problem I see, is that in this article, the writer is making obvious inferences and conclusions based on little, to no evidence at all (other than the one photograph). This article is poorly written and is showing an obvious bias against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. These articles seldom make it further than the month that they were written, so I am not to worried about the viability of this article, as I am hoping people will notice the blinding bias that Ecorazzi writers’ have. Learn how to write a cohesive article, and maintain an objective stance.

    But since I am not a writer, but rather a commenter, I can have a bias.

    So, I love whales. I believe humans will all die off soon, due to our own stupidity. It’s going to be a great laugh. Oh. You are saying, I will die too? I do not really care, I, at this point have grown tired of living and could care less if reality ceased for me tomorrow. Human beings go around pillaging, destroying and raping the lands and the seas for all it’s precious bounty.

    But in the end, we will have nothing. And the world will laugh, as we all die.

    • The Infidel

      Well, it says “gossip” right at the top. It’s a greenish online tabloid, hardly the Environmentalist Times. A bit of sensationalism is to be expected ;)

      • Attalama

        Ha, exactly. I still love you Ecorazzi. and it looks like your article made Wietse make a bit clearer his relationship with SS and Blackfish on his twit bio.

  • Anonymous2

    The simple fact is Paul Watson lies…I don’t believe anything he says

    The actions of Blackfish have probaly just galvanized the dolphin fisherman and will make it more difficult for legitimate groups to monitor the annual hunt…short term publicity gain (and freedom for some dolphins)..long term continuation of the hunt with more security — very short sighted..

    • The Infidel

      You mean the legitimate groups who decided to stay out of Taiji proper after receiving threats of violence from the nationalist pro-whaling camp, and being warned by local police that they would be “unable” to offer adequate protection over there?

      Methinks it’s safe to say the fishermen and their buddies are already plenty galvanized.

      Some people can’t take the heat and decide to stay well away from the kitchen. That’s OK. No hard feelings. Knowing one’s limitations is an important step to being an effective activist, and there’s plenty of work to be done behind the frontlines too.

      But to criticize those who dare to actually go on the offensive, because the opponent might actually *gasp* fight back (OMG!)… that’s just plain silly.

      • Anonymous2

        I guess the people who brought this hunt to light through “The Cove” are not legitmate:

        Later on Wednesday, Ric O’Barry of “The Cove” fame, on his Save Japan Dolphins/Earth Island Institute blog, stated that his groups have no connection to “The Black Fish” and predicted: “Based on this incident, it is likely that the situation in Taiji will get more dangerous.”

      • Michael Raymer

        “I guess the people who brought this hunt to light through “The Cove” are not legitmate:”

        How exactly are you making this connection? I mean, seriously, I’ve read and re-read this post and I have no idea what point you’re making. What does anything on this thread have to do with the producers of “The Cove”?

  • Anonymous

    I hope the Japanese fishing industry collapses and sends their whole world spinning. They do not speak the language of morality or ethics. The only language that they can understand, is money.

  • Devon

    Paul Watson caught lying is really nothing new. He has been doing it most of his life now.