by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Causes, Internet.

Yesterday’s explosive “List of Concerns” made public by Pete Bethune as his official resignation letter from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was only part of a heated exchange that happened late last weekend between the former Captain of the Ady Gil and Captain Paul Watson.

What we know is that sometime on Sunday afternoon, Watson emailed Bethune and explained why he could not accompany the Sea Shepherd on their next campaign (Operation No Compromise) in the Antarctic. His main sticking point was that Bethune gave the Japanese fraudulent information while in custody that directly led to Watson being placed on Interpol’s “Blue Watch” list. “Basically you sold me out with a bogus statement,” he writes. “You lied, and what you received in return I have no idea. I’m sure it helped to provide leniency for your sentencing.”

Watson then goes on to say that the Sea Shepherd will be severing ties with Bethune — but will say nothing more regarding the matter so as not to disillusion “all those people who view you as a hero.” He also mentions that they will not be buying the previously-agreed-upon 800 copies of his upcoming book “Whale Warrior”, or allow him to speak at any organization-related rallies or other events.

Things get a bit nasty at the end — with Watson pointing the finger directly at Bethune for the loss of his boat and calling his hand-picked crew “the biggest whiners we have ever had the displeasure to work with on a campaign”. One interesting bit that isn’t detailed further is Watson’s mention of still funding Bethune for the Ady Gil “despite having spent a half a million on your defence and despite the fact that the vessel was lost because you were negligent.” So it looks like the SS were in fact going to cough up dough for a replacement vessel based on Bethune’s design — something Paul and Pete were probably discussing late this past summer.

[UPDATE: In am email from Paul Watson, he disputes any behind-the-scenes discussions to replace the Ady Gil. “We never worked with Pete Bethune to replace the Ady Gil based on any designs by Pete. We in fact never even discussed the replacement of the Ady Gil with Pete Bethune. The idea of building a replacement was discussed between Ady Gil and Pete Bethune but we never entertained the idea building a vessel – the cost would be much too high.”

After Watson hit send, it didn’t take long for Pete to respond — and the now-famous list of concerns followed. What was removed from Pete’s original online posting are the demands that he laid out to prevent him from going public with his story — apparently all of which were agreed to between both parties earlier. One highlight is a bluefin tuna campaign (I assume in the Mediterranean) that Pete would apparently lead himself. He also mentions that he would gracefully resign from SS in April 2011.

After that, it’s just a list of the damage he says he could inflict by going public — and the various ways he could make life hell for the SS. One stunt in particular would involve a $500K lie-detector test challenge that Bethune says Watson would never submit to “leave media and volunteers speculating as to why he would turn down half a million dollars for simply answering a few questions.”

Below is the full correspondence as received from Watson last night — as well as his reasons for leaking the exchange to the Australian media. He’s left some responses to Pete’s list of complaints in bold. It’s also worth watching this video that Bethune recently placed on UpStream explaining further each of his issues with Sea Shepherd — and an interesting bit on how the whole “Ady Gil” scuttling was kept secret from the Ady Gil the benefactor.

Letter to Pete Bethune from Captain Paul Watson (October 3rd, 2010)

From: Paul Watson
Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2010 12:38 PM
To: ‘Pete Bethune’
Cc: ‘steveroest@*****'; ‘Kim McCoy'; Tiffany Humphrey
Subject: From Captain Paul Watson


I do not wish to take away your status as a hero for what you did by boarding the Shonan Maru #2. It was a courageous move and you know that everyone in Sea Shepherd agrees with me on that. Thousands of people around the world look up to you. I would not wish to disappoint them.

You were not so courageous while in custody. And before you say that I don’t know what it is like to be held in custody, I will tell you that I was held for 120 days on a warrant from Norway. During that time I said absolutely nothing and I was released without charges.

Peter Hammarstedt and Alex Cornelissen were aggressively interrogated by the RCMP in Canada over their interventions against the seal hunt in 2008 and said nothing.

Allison Lance and Alex Cornelissen were aggressively interrogated for four weeks in Japan in 2003 for freeing dolphins and said nothing. They certainly did not blame anyone else for their actions.

You on the other hand blamed all of your actions on me and as a result I am on the Interpol Blue List which has already resulted in my being taken into custody at a U.S. border crossing with guns trained on me. I was handcuffed and locked up, briefly, but long enough for the Homeland Security advisor to say that Japan had described me as “armed and dangerous.”

Recently the Japanese police informed Scott West in Taiji that I was wanted and that there was a warrant out for my arrest. He said that neither he nor I knew anything about this warrant. The police told Scott that Pete Bethune had provided enough evidence to lay charges against me and to send me to prison in Japan.

These charges most likely include conspiracy for “ordering” you to board the Shonan Maru #2.

Yes, you apologized for making those statements and you told me you retracted them, but the problem with that is that there is a transcript of record for the accusations and there is no transcript of any retraction.

The evidence you provided against me is the foundation for Japan placing me on the list.

We have received the full transcript of your statement implicating me as the person who “ordered” you to board the Shonan Maru #2 and as the person who “ordered” you to do everything you admitted guilt for doing.”

It’s a very simple thing Pete. “Nobody talks, everybody walks.” You never say anything under interrogation unless you were tortured and you were not tortured.

You see Pete, up until now, Japan had no legal validity to do anything because we were on Dutch registered ships in international waters. When you stepped onboard the Shonan Maru #2 you were on Japanese “soil” so to speak and subject to Japanese law. You were, not us, and the choice to be there was yours, not ours.

You know that I allowed you to do what you wanted to do and that I did not order you, nor did I even suggest that you board the Shonan Maru #2. It was your decision, not mine, and it is inexcusable that you told the Japanese prosecutor that I ordered you to board the ship.

As you recall I wanted you to go to New Zealand to do publicity. You requested that I take you back to sea to board the Shonan Maru #2.

Basically you sold me out with a bogus statement. You lied, and what you received in return I have no idea. I’m sure it helped to provide leniency for your sentencing.

We spent over a half a million dollars on your defence Pete and yet you had the audacity to publicly say we betrayed you when our statement that we would be dismissing you actually helped your case and helped to set you free. And despite our providing the best legal team possible, you decided to talk and to betray us and apparently felt justified in doing so.

You came home a hero and I have no interest in disillusioning all those people who view you as a hero. You gave them hope and inspiration with your actions and that is very positive and overall good for this movement to protect the whales.

But it is not the truth. Your courage faltered under interrogation

And because of that we cannot work with you. We cannot promote your book or allow you to be involved in Sea Shepherd activities or to go on Sea Shepherd campaigns. We simply can’t trust you not to provide statements that will cause us problems. We cannot risk having you captured by the Japanese whalers again. We cannot trust that you would not agree to be a witness for the Japanese prosecution again, as you already have done.

What I would like to suggest is that you continue to do your thing independent of Sea Shepherd. We will say nothing publicly about you, if you say nothing publicly about us. We will simply say that we made a promise to the Japanese courts and we and you intend to honour that promise. This way you can retain your hero status and people will not be disappointed in you.

We still will be providing you with funds for the Ady Gil despite having spent a half a million on your defence and despite the fact that the vessel was lost because you were negligent. We have put the best face possible on it but let’s be honest Pete, there is no excuse for not having your vessel under control in the vicinity of a hostile ship. The Shonan Maru #2 was able to destroy your ship because you allowed them to do so. You took no evasive action. You and your crew were busy thumbing your noses at the Japanese and ironically laughing at how ineffective they were. You lost the ship Pete and if you were in the Navy you would have been court marshalled for what you allowed to happen.

In addition some of your hand picked crew threatened my officers with physical violence and demonstrated that they were the biggest whiners we have ever had the displeasure to work with on a campaign.

So please tell any of the Sea Shepherd chapters that have invited you to speak that you will have to decline. You need not give a reason.

I don’t wish to diminish your reputation. We need say nothing negatively about you in public and we request that you do the same.


Captain Paul Watson

Answering Message from Pete Bethune to Captain Paul Watson

(I have commented on his allegations in bold)

From: pete.bethune@***** [mailto:pete.bethune@****] On Behalf Of Pete Bethune
Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2010 9:43 PM
To: Paul Watson
Cc: Steve Roest; Kim McCoy; Tiffany Humphrey; Chuck Swift
Subject: Re: From Captain Paul Watson


Without prejudice

I am writing this in an effort to curb the increasing dishonesty by SSCS towards myself and the volunteers and supporters of Sea Shepherd.  I am considering going public regarding the following issues:

PW: (The consideration as can be seen at the end of this letter is if we gave into his demands)

Concern Number One:  Deliberate Scuttling of Ady Gil

When Chuck (in presence of Peter H) first said to me that Paul wanted me to scuttle the Ady Gil, I went to 3 of my crew and discussed it with them.  When Chuck, Luke and myself went to do the scuttling, we were discretely filmed by one of my crew.  We were filmed going to the Ady Gil by RIB, working to open compartments in the sponsons and rear hatches, and then returning to the Bob Barker.   That night we discussed what I had done, how long the sinking would take, and the legal ramifications of what had occurred.

A few days later I also confessed to Laurens about the scuttling.  He was understandably very disappointed.  So all crew on the Ady Gil are aware of the scuttling, and three of them are willing to sign affidavits testifying to the above, and they are also all willing to undergo lie detector tests to verify they are telling the truth.

I felt horrid after the scuttling and I have felt terrible about it ever since.  It broke me heart to sink a vessel that had been such a big part of my life, and I also felt we had betrayed SSCS sponsors, SSCS supporters, Ady Gil, and the public by lying about it.

PW: Yes I ordered the scuttling of the Ady Gil after towing it for 36 hours and realizing it was unsalvageable. We notified Australian Maritime Safety of this so as to avoid the vessel becoming a navigational hazard. It was sinking slowly and there was nothing the crew of the Bob Barker could do to salvage it. On Whale Wars on camera, Chuck Swift asks Pete as Captain of the Ady Gil what he would like done. Pete says on camera that the only thing that can be done is to scuttle it.  Laurens denies the above.

Concern Number 2:  Maligning my Character over the Bow and Arrow

When I met with Paul Watson in July 2009, he gave me permission to take a Bow and Arrow to Antarctica, with the idea of pasting a poison on the arrow tips (or fake poison), and firing them into dead whales while they were being transferred from harpoon vessel to processing ship.   When I met Paul on the Steve Irwin in Antarctica, I confirmed all tactics, and he again said I had permission to use the bow and arrow if we came across a suitable situation.

After the Ady Gil was sunk, crew of the Shonan Maru found four arrows in the water.   Not surprising really, as Laurens had purchased 100 arrows for us in Hobart, and these were all stored in the forward sleeping quarters (where the Ady Gil got rammed).  SSCS issued a press release denying all knowledge of the arrows, suggesting instead that the whalers had planted them as false evidence.  There was no need to say anything at all.  The story was the Ady Gil had sunk…not that some arrows had been found.  No one really cared about four arrows when the whalers had explosive harpoons and 12 gauge shotguns.

In issuing the press release, SSCS was lying to media.  It was a mistake to ever deny the arrows, and the communications debacle since then has been a total disgrace.

While I was imprisoned in Japan, senior Sea Shepherd people saw that the bow and arrow was to appear in the first episode of whale wars, and Lizard Productions refused to delete the scenes.  SSCS wrongly felt they were in for a backlash about perceived violent tactics.  They decided to expel me from SSCS.  I have had this meeting verified by two sources.  Chuck Swift falsely claimed in a press release that I took a banned object to Antarctica.  Paul Watson then backs up Chuck by agreeing that he had no knowledge of the bow and arrow, and that yes I was expelled from SSCS.

This is a direct attack on my character, and I am sure I am well within my rights to sue SSCS for defamation of character.

PW: No one in Sea Shepherd gave Pete permission to bring a weapon onboard. I was completely unaware of a bow with arrows were onboard and it was a violation of our weapons policy. Pete violated our weapons policy.

Issue #3.  The false Expulsion from SSCS

Several people left Sea Shepherd in protest at my treatment, and many others threatened to never support SSCS again.   SSCS then goes into damage control.  It announces they had not really expelled me, but in fact had done it to assist in my sentencing.  Note my lawyers believed the tactic did not really help my cause, as it portrayed me as dishonest – it implied for example I had taken a bow and arrow without the permission of Paul Watson.  The lawyers repeatedly told me they had nothing to do with the expulsion, and they certainly would never have recommended it.

My legal team in fact only found out about the expulsion after it was announced to media.  My legal team did include the expulsion in court evidence, reasoning it was now in the public domain, and the Judges would already be aware of it.  But in no way did my legal team ever request, recommend or suggest that my expulsion would in any way assist with sentencing.

On getting out of prison, Paul and Laurens both said to me I was not expelled, and I was welcome back on all future campaigns.  Several other senior SSCS people however confirmed that the expulsion was because of the bow and arrow, but the increasing backlash against my treatment had made SSCS come up with a suitable guise – in this case, it was all part of the master strategy to help with sentencing.

PW: There was no deal with the Japanese judges and we never said we made a deal we simply said that a public dismissal would help Pete because the Japanese judges were reluctant to release him knowing he might return to the Southern Ocean. Our lawyers said this helped to appease them. I told Pete that we could not let him return because it would hurt our credibility with Japan should any other crew be captured.  Pete is not very grateful that we spent a half a million dollars on his defence.

Issue #4.  The Secret Agreement with Japanese Judges

In August while I was in LA I said to both Paul and Laurens that I wished to go on the next Antarctica campaign.  Paul said there were some reservations about my going to Japan, and he suggested that a deal had been done with the Japanese judiciary.   After several conversations and subsequent emails, he confirmed we really owed the Japanese nothing, I could go on the next campaign, I could do my Pacific Yellowfin project, and SSCS would help to promote and sell my book.  A few weeks later the number of books SSCS would purchase was agreed at 800.  This order was placed on my authors account with the publishers.

Then in September, I was again told that SSCS had made a supposed secret agreement with Japanese Judges.  This entailed my not participating in another Antarctica campaign, in exchange for a suspended sentence.  This of course is in contrast with Paul and Laurens’ assurances on my release that I was still a bona fide member of SSCS and welcome on the next Antarctica campaign.  It also contradicts the email sent from Paul following my release.

I have spoken to lawyers in Japan, a Japanese prosecutor, and several Japanese Journalists, and all have said it would be impossible for SSCS to reach any secret deal with the Judges.  There is in fact no evidence to support this.  No one knows who made the deal, which judges it was with, and what the specific terms were.  It would represent interference in the judicial system.

If the head of the biggest Yakuza faction, incidentally some 3 cells down from mine in the Tokyo Detention Centre, and with half a billion dollars in assets at his disposal – well if he cannot make a deal with the Judiciary, what hope does an organisation like SSCS, routinely derided and despised in Japan as a terrorist organisation, have of cutting an illegal deal?  The answer of course is none.  There was no secret deal with the Judiciary.

My legal team all along said a suspended sentence was inevitable, as long as I cooperated with the Prosecutor and acted humble and contrite in court…which I did.   If I refused to say anything however, they said the trial would take years and cost millions.  I was advised if I took the “nobody talks, everybody walks” approach, I would be detained for a much longer period.  So under advice from the legal counsel, I did agree to things to expedite the trial. This included pleading guilty to four charges.

PW: There was never a secret agreement. The bottom line is Pete sang like a bird for the Japanese prosecution and now he is on the defensive.

Issue #5.  Reneging on book purchases

On Friday, I am informed that SSCS Australia is no longer purchasing copies of my book, and this instruction has come directly from Paul Watson.  The order has been placed on my authors account with the publishers, and I cannot backtrack on it.  The printing has been expedited to enable initial delivery in a week’s time.  I was also informed that it is likely all SSCS offices will not be purchasing copies of my book, despite the previous agreement made.

If SSCS does not proceed with the order, I am left with a bill of NZ$16,000 that I am obligated to pay.  I will of course have a further 800 books in my possession, but in reality these are best served being sold by SSCS that has the marketing, website presence and fundraisers to dispose of them easily, while making $16,000 in profits.

It represents just another backtrack from agreements already reached, and it is poor treatment for a person that has sacrificed much for SSCS.

PW: I am not going to promote a book by a man who gave a false testimony to the Japanese that has caused me to be a target of the Japanese police.

Issue #6.  I am not welcome now at the SSCS fundraisers in Australia

Today I am also informed that I should inform SSCS Australia that I am now unavailable to speak at the Australian fundraisers in October.  These dates have been known for ages, my flights are all booked and paid for, and I am suddenly treated like a leper.  It would seem I an no longer welcome at anything Sea Shepherd.

PW: It is true he is not welcome for the same reason as stated above.

Issue #7.  The faked shooting of Paul Watson

A number of crew on the Bob Barker and Steve Irwin were discussing the alleged shooting of Paul Watson.  In the first series of Whale Wars, Paul Watson was supposedly shot by crew of the Nisshin Maru.  SSCS Crew present on that voyage argued strongly to me that the entire episode was faked.  I was not on the campaign, so in fact I don’t know if it is in fact true or not.  However given what I’ve witnessed in the last year, and my knowledge of the Japanese crew, I would bet $500,000 at odds of 10:1, that the event was staged.

The shooting represents just another lie that does little for the credibility of SSCS.  The organisation does not need to lie or be deceptive to sell its message.  The public will support the cause of stopping whaling, however they will not support SSCS if they become aware of the many lies the organisation increasingly propagates through media.

PW: There are no SSCS crew saying such things that I or anyone else in the organization is aware of. I offered the bullet and vest to the Australian Federal Police to examine. They chose to not do so citing lack of jurisdiction. There is not much that I can do to prove that I was shot nor can our critics prove that I was not. The ship’s doctor testified that I was and the hole in my suit was not there in an interview on camera from a few minutes before. There is a whole conspiracy theory online about this shooting so this allegation is hardly anything new and most likely the source for Pete’s desperate need to find fault with Sea Shepherd.

The stuff below is merely an attempt by Pete to force me to give him what he wants. I had no intention of doing so.

What I am requesting:

What really concerns me most is the apparent moral bankruptcy of senior SSCS personnel.  They routinely conspire and lie over serious matters, with little regard for people like myself who they malign and bulldoze along the way.   They misrepresent themselves to the public who are generous enough to support them, and to media who they rely on to promote their cause.

The short time I have been associated with SSCS, and the sheer number of lies I’ve witnessed, makes me realise there is a large and increasing number of skeletons hidden in the SSCS closet.  It is time for this closet to be closed (or opened fully) and for the organisation to move on.

I am asking that from now on, SSCS determine to act in an honest way with its volunteers including myself, with supporters and media.   SSCS does not need to lie.  Saving whales, dolphins, tuna and sharks are noble causes, and the public will embrace these as worthwhile.  The story does not need to be manipulated and changed in order to get public support.

Secondly, volunteers like myself should be treated honestly and with respect.  If an agreement is made with a volunteer, then it should be honoured.  This process of agreeing to things, only to renege a month or two later is simply unacceptable for a volunteer organisation.

Since returning home I have been contacted by numerous volunteers all unhappy at how SSCS has treated them.  The sheer number of complaints suggests that SSCS routinely treats Volunteers with contempt.

A good start would be to simply accept the bow and arrow story has been a debacle, and not comment on it any more.   Do not mention the secret agreement with the Japanese Judges, nor my expulsion from SSCS.  It is a sorry chapter in SSCS history that the organisation, and I, should move on from.

SSCS should commence honouring obligations agreed to.  In my case, this includes

These are all simply items agreed to a couple of months ago.   I am not asking for new favours – simply that you honour existing commitments.  And that next year I can leave the organisation with dignity, rather than as a leper.  And that SSCS starts treating other volunteers with the dignity they also deserve.

What I will do if SSCS agrees to a new honest approach with volunteers, supporters and media, and if it honours commitments made to me and others:

What I will do if SSCS continues to act dishonestly:

SSCS has an obligation to act honestly with its volunteers who work for free, the public who are good enough to donate money, goods and services, and the media who assist in propagating the conservation message.  Volunteers, the public and media however have a right to know the truth about the organisations they assist.  So if SSCS continues to act dishonestly, then I will start working on ensuring this behaviour is made public.  Following are a few possibilities

1:  Media Stunt

The information I would expose is damming.  Of course SSCS is a well-oiled publicity machine, so I’ll need to be clever.  Here’s a possibility that would probably garner some traction.

We will hold a press conference in Brisbane before the SSCS fundraiser.   I will have US$500,000 in cash, in public, and under guard at the press conference, which coincidentally, is also just outside where the SSCS fundraiser is held.   Paul Watson will be offered US$500,000.  The only catch is he must submit to a lie detector test, and his answer must show up as truthful.   And the question will be “did you ask Chuck  / Pete to sink the Ady Gil?”

Or we could make it $100,000 per question, and submit say five of them, ranging from the fake shooting, the bow and arrow, the deliberate scuttling, and the deal made with the Japanese Judges.

Note myself and Ady Gil crew will all take the lie detector tests before hand.  Paul of course would never submit to the tests, and it will leave media and volunteers speculating as to why he would turn down half a million dollars for simply answering a few questions.

PW: I would be delighted to take such a test in return for $500,000. In fact the question of  Did I ask Chuck and Pete to scuttle the Ady Gil. The answer is yes I did. There was no other choice. The ship was unsalvageable and was sinking slowly and was a navigational hazard while afloat so we assisted the sinking notified Australian Maritime Safety that we did so. No big conspiracy here. On camera Pete is asked what he thinks should be done and he says that it should be scuttled. Perhaps Pete forgot he said this on a television show.

No problem with truthfully answering the other questions either.

2.  TV News Deal

Linked with the stunt, we will have a TV News show such as 60 Minutes Australia lined up recording the story, and screening it shortly afterwards.  We will also record our own footage, and this will be provided free–of-charge to news networks.

3:  Tell all book

I could spend a month or two rewriting the “Whale Warrior” book for release in USA, Canada and Europe in mid 2011.  This will include all the good stories of the last campaign, but will also expose the rot that exists within upper management of SSCS.  It will be promoted by an Author’s tour throughout North America and Europe.  I will simply tell the truth, and it will not reflect so well on the integrity of SSCS management.

4:  Coordinated media campaign

Footage will be cut into video clips and these, along with other messages, will be distributed via FB, Twitter, and forums, social networking sites.  I will work to connect with Sea Shepherd volunteers all over the world.

5:  Approach the board of SSCS

If I was a board member of SSCS, and I knew of the dishonesty being exhibited by the founder, the CEO and the DCEO, I would probably ask for their resignation.  Or I might ask that management take a considerable step towards sorting the problems of integrity and dishonesty, and threaten their sacking should they fail to do so.  The board has a right to know what truly happens on campaign.  I wonder how many of them know that Paul really did give me permission to take the bow, or that the Ady Gil was deliberately scuttled?  Some board members might of course choose to resign from an organisation demonstrated to be so morally bankrupt.

6:  Assist in legal proceedings associated with the deliberate sinking

My crew and I would cooperate fully with any investigation or legal process undertaken by other parties such as SSCS, MSA or Ady Gil.  Legally Mr Gil owned the vessel, and I followed orders in sinking it.  Ady has a right to sue me I guess, and a right to sue SSCS.  He won’t get much from me of course, but he may well tie SSCS up in the courts for years.

PW: Pete is obligated as are we all to assist with the legal proceedings over this incident although the Japanese have refused to do so. I have complete confidence that we did all that we could to salvage the Ady Gil. It was Pete who lost the ship and if he feels that he was negligent and that his negligence contributed to the loss of the ship, by all means he should say so to the investigators. He was in command of the Ady Gil. I was not.

What happens from here:

So from here, there are many options.  One, is SSCS can start to honour the obligations it makes to me and other volunteers and supporters, and it can start to treat us with respect if we move on.   And from now it deals honestly with media and in communications.

Or, SSCS can continue its current ways, and I will work for a period of twelve months to shed some light on what the upper management are really doing.

I have many weaknesses, but thankfully, a couple of strengths.  One of the strengths is I am unafraid.  I have no problem in going public and I will accept the consequences.  In some respects I would prefer this.  The deliberate scuttling of Ady Gil weighs heavily upon me, and I have sorely regretted ever agreeing with Paul and Chuck to do it.   The trouble is it will sorely damage SSCS if this happens, and I still believe in the core work that SSCS does, and in the thousands of Volunteers and supporters who keep the organisation running.

It is tragic that my last few days have been spent working on this.  I should be putting my energies into helping stop whaling, rather than having to address dishonesty amongst SSCS management.  But sometimes we must make a stand.  When I boarded the Shonan Maru #2, I did so on behalf of SSCS, but i was also standing up for what is right.  This email involves a similar motivation. I believe the way volunteers, supporters, media and myself have been treated is dishonest, and it should stop.  You simply do not need to behave in this manner.  And maybe it is time someone made a stand.

PW: All of the above smacks of blackmail and I immediately turned this over to the media to show that Sea Shepherd has nothing to hide and Pete’s allegations are bogus and quite frankly desperate.

I am willing to work with you on this.  I also give you my word that if I commit to something with you, I will honor it.  :)

PW: No he won’t. He said he would accept full responsibility for boarding the Shonan Maru #2, that it was his decision and he was prepared to spend time in prison for this if need be. He said all of this on camera and it was aired to millions of people yet he did not honour his word – he shifted the blame to me. That is not honourable and it is not honourable to attempt to blackmail us like he has done here.


This entire situation is regrettable. I did not wish to make a public drama of this but it was a choice between our going public or giving into his demands. We will not be extorted or told how to conduct our campaigns or who will participate especially under threat.

In response to Pete’s threats I contacted The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia and turned over the correspondence and our position. Reporter Andrew Darby in researching the story contacted Pete Bethune. We gave him his number and Pete had his say. This however alerted Pete that we were calling his bluff and he then began to release his false accusations on Facebook.

Pete Bethune has his own fan base and for those who believe that Pete is the Whale Warrior he claims to be, all we can say is by all means do support him. It was not my wish to denigrate him, merely to disassociate ourselves from him and to do so quietly. He chose to not go quietly.

If people wish to support Pete and enable him to go to the Southern Ocean to intervene against the Japanese whaling fleet, I can only say, the more interventions by anyone, the better. He is free to do what he wants to do within his own rules.

But we cannot allow him to ignore our rules of engagement and that means no weapons and no derogatory references to the Japanese.

We also cannot abide his betrayal, his cooperation with the Japanese authorities. If people think he was justified in making false statements to gain leniency they are free to do so but when Pete referred to us as being morally bankrupt, I can’t think of anything that falls under that definition more accurately than selling out your comrades and then attempting to blackmail them.

Sea Shepherd is in the final stages of preparations to return to the Southern Ocean. We intend to impact the whaling operations more so than last season where we succeeded on cutting the kill quota by over 50%. Every year we get stronger and gain additional resources. This year we return stronger than ever and I am confident that we will have a highly effective campaign.

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.

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  • AI

    I just find this whole situation so sad and awful! It’s obvious it snowballed and escalated to a mess that’s making all parties look bad now. The worst part is that Watson and Bethune are clearly talking past each other. Both are motivated by fear, and both feel deeply betrayed. Paul is pissed because he may have to face serious legal issues because of Pete’s statements in the trial, and Pete is pissed because SS has just pulled the rug out from under him and feels that he has lost everything and now his future seems jeopardized (his plans for the new campaign, books, speaking, etc). Of course Pete’s fear led him to make desperate threats, and Paul’s anger and fear over that led to Paul to take overblown measures with ‘cutting all ties’ and agreements with him.
    It’s just so ugly that all of this being played out in the media. As a supporter, I love both Pete and Sea Shepherd. I don’t want to feel like I have to ‘choose sides’ and I want them to be able to work well together since they are both courageous activists with the same overall goals. I wish they would kiss and make up, apologize for what’s been done and said, and stand together publicly and move on. They’re much stronger as a unified front–no more trying to tear each other down please!

  • Michael Raymer

    Pete Bethune has really hung himself in the above correspondence. Watson didn’t even need to post any replies. The evidence is virtually leaping off the page. I’m glad that I always had a skeptical view of Bethune, now I have no respect for him whatsoever. Talk about “morally bankrupt”.

    1. He would rather cause damage to SSCS’s whaling intervention than bow out gracefully and start his own operation.

    2. He would rather blow a half million dollars on a publicity stunt than use it towards whaling intervention.

    3. He would rather devote 12 months of his life towards a pissing contest with Paul Watson than use his time, money and energy being the “Whale Warrior” that he claims to be.

    4. He isn’t smart enough to remember that his words and actions were comprehensively recorded and aired on TV. Keep that in mind, future Bethune followers.

    This is as absurd as it is unfortunate. Now that this has been (regretably) put into public circulation, I hope that SSCS just moves on without giving this clown any further consideration. And to all those who posted on this site in the past who referred to Pete as “Bafune” (buffoon), you have me completely on your side with this characterization. You were right all along.

    • David

      “4. He isn’t smart enough to remember that his words and actions were comprehensively recorded and aired on TV. Keep that in mind, future Bethune followers.”

      And the exact same statement applies to Paul.

      • Don Madio

        And yours are written….Which way will the win blow tomorrow? Whatever direction, Niles will be heading that way, right or wrong!!

    • drewks

      “2. He would rather blow a half million dollars on a publicity stunt than use it towards whaling intervention.”

      Well, technically, it would go toward Sea Shepherd, so it would actually go toward whaling prevention =)

  • Nancy

    Paul Watson is the biggest ego maniac on the planet. I dont doubt for one second he lied about the things Pete mentioned. We can see the truth in most of the Whale Wars episodes anyway. Now, Pete should not have ran at the mouth the way he did. Im happy to know the truth but it was a bit tacky via facebook.
    Paul is great at getting people in to trouble and then running the other way himself. He’s a big man on his boat but a coward in real life. I have doubted Paul since the first episode of Season 1 of Whale Wars. He lies and spins truths like no other. I am very saddened by all this mess because in the end the Whales are losing. I will always support Pete and I will continue to donate to SSCS because they are the only organization actively intercepting illegal whalers but Paul Watson is one shady cat!! I stand by the volunteers. The ones who get no press and arent famous. They are the ones with the heart to help the cause.

  • Nancy

    PS- i love how now all of a sudden its Petes fault the Ady sank when before it was rammed by japanese whalers. Thats just one clear example of how Paul flips his stories to benefit his situation. He is such a liar.

    • Cho cho ma

      Tell me, who lied and said Paul Watson told him to do it which lead to a warrent for his arrest?

      • Hufingraz

        Well, actually it just put Paul on Interpol’s Blue List, which Paul said himself 6 months ago, means nothing.

    • Michael Raymer

      I gotta call shenanigans on this one. It WAS Pete’s fault. He left his post when there was enemy in the area. As you state above, you can see the truth on the episode. Low on fuel is not out of fuel. I was a bit appalled when I saw how this actually played out on screen. Pete completely relaxed and allowed the others on board to do the same with the Shonan Maru in close proximity. This is a classic case of dereliction of duty. As the most experienced operator on board, let alone being the captain, he left himself in no position to avoid the collision. As David and Mick keep parroting on the other thread, the captain is responsible for what happens on board his ship.

      If you want to support Bethune that’s your call. But after all I’ve seen, including this current fiasco, he’s nothing more than a thrill seeking cowboy with more balls than brains with a large order of crybaby on the side.

      • David

        This is so funny.

        Suddenly Michael is reusing all the arguments the anti-SSCS posters used when the collision happened. Well at least he has a good memory.

        And just as a side note, yes the captain is responsible for his boat and the Admiral is responsible for all the boats and captains in his fleet.

      • Michael Raymer

        It’s good to see my use of the word “parroting” was not in vain. Keep going David. I think there are a few square inches of this site that you haven’t covered with the exact same phrase. But, was there a point you wanted to make?

      • imforthewhales

        ha ha good call…lol

      • David

        Yes there is a point. Months ago when the anti-SSCS poster accused Pete of mistakes in the collision, the anti-whalers argued against all the points that were raised.

        Now that you decide you need to smear Pete to defend Paul you use the exact same arguments that the anti-whalers rejected back when Pete was still considered a hero.

      • Michael Raymer

        The points that were raised were that the Shonan Maru deliberately changed course to intentionally ram the Ady Gil. I support that. The video evidence points to it. Pete’s dereliction of duty does not absolve the Shonan Maru of this. You and your side can interpret the evidence any way you want, you can accuse whoever was at the wheel of whatever you want. But, both the video that was released right after the collision and what was shown on “Whale Wars” confirms that the Shonan Maru intentionally collided with the Ady Gil. The small amount of wake that you see coming from the stern of the Ady Gil is nothing more than making headway. You never just put a boat in neutral in sea conditions such as those. You keep a small amount of propulsion going to maintain steerage. If the Ady Gil was taking any type of specific action against the Shonan Maru, they would have more fuel and the captain/crew would not be lounging on the stern. When the initial video was released, there could have been any reason why the crew was gathered on the stern. But the coverage on “Whale Wars” showed that they were doing nothing but hanging out and congratulating themselves…..with an enemy vessel in close proximity. This is my beef with Bethune. And this was not an issue that was raised by the anti-SSCS faction.

      • David

        You are just plain wrong Michael.

        Yes the ship’s wake and the forward/reverse issues were extensively discussed. But there were many other issues raised by anti-SSCS posters that were all argued against by the anti-whalers. And those issue include all the things you now want to blame on Pete.

      • Don Madio

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

      • Don Madio

        No Michael. He says the same thing and everyone on the board can’t stand him.

        Intelligent people don’t have to be so defensive. They state the incontrovertible facts & admit when they make a mistake. Niles does neither.

        He’s already been exposed Mike. His name is Niles & he worked with Paul @ Greenpeace in the 80’s & hasn’t let his differences with the Whale Warrior.

        I’ve gotten 22 emails congratulating me on putting him in his place, so don’t let him get to you Pal….

      • David

        Don will you give it up. And start posting on topic.

        I never worked for Greenpeace. I spent the 80’s in the US Navy.

        All you have exposed is your paranoia.

        When both sides of a discussion are intelligent your statement is correct, but when dealing with fanatic even the most intelligent person needs to repeat and defend even the simplest facts.

      • Michael Raymer

        “when dealing with fanatic even the most intelligent person needs to repeat and defend even the simplest facts.”

        Welcome to my world, David. Now you understand exactly what it is like when we try to engage people like you, Mick and Kimitake in constructive debate. EXACTLY what it is like.

      • David

        Sorry Michael I live in reality. I really don’t want to visit your fantasy land where things are true just because you want them to be.

      • crumpets are yummy

        but when dealing with fanatic even the most intelligent person needs to repeat and defend even the simplest facts.

        So, so true..hey pro whaling fanatics…(!) lets talk about the deliberate sinking of the ady gil x the japanese…again….I would just love to repeat the FACTS over & over again to you…


    Well, this clears the air a little at least.

  • Kimitake Hiraoka

    This stuff is absolute gold – keep it coming dEstries, it’s great to see Ecorazzi finally having a more honest look at SSCS.

    Poor Pete. I’ve been saying for a while now that he’s a schmuck who’s been had by Watson and his lies. And now he’s tried to come up against the Great Liar and is being completely out done in the media and is also left out of pocket. I truly pity the fool.

    But I wish him all the best in his fight against the SSCS thugs – because for once he has chosen to tell the truth and that should always be supported. They say the truth will always prevail, and for his sake I hope it is true.

    In the meantime, perhaps it’s time we started looking at the possiblity of a post-SSCS world? If this corrupt organisation goes under, that leaves a significant vacuum in the whale protectionist industry. There’s big bucks to be made there… Who will step up? Will the next mob of fanatics be even more violent, extreme and deceptive? Any thoughts?


      So, are you on the ICR’s payroll, or are you a freelance wingnut?

      • Cho cho ma

        I vote wingnut

      • imforthewhales

        i vote ICR

    • Annie

      I say Peter the Hammer will lead, but will still be following Watson’s orders on the sly…poor fool, he knows no other way, and he is infatuated w/ Watson. That much was abundantly clear in the Operation Waltzing Matilda footage on WW…

  • Crow Medicine

    I support SeaShepherd, but I won’t watch the show anymore.

    • imforthewhales

      Well then you don’t support Sea Shepherd.

  • romika3

    Folks, four years of tracking and documenting and finially I am proven right by a SSCS insider. This perhaps is a great day for the conservation movment as this may be the last of an organization that has actually done more damage than good.

    • imforthewhales

      it depends what you mean by damage:)

      I suppose you mean damage as in loss of Japanese credibility, and the huge number of whales that have been saved…whales that are now swimming freely, that have not ended up in the mincer, and loss of face by the Japanese whalers whose lies and corruption have been exposed to the world by Sea Shepherd.

      Yes, they have done a lot of damage haven’t they, when you think about it.

      Good on them.

      And you know what romika3? None of your bleatings on here will make the slightest bit of difference. Sea Shepherd will return to the Southern Ocean again this year to tackle the pirate whalers.

  • romika3

    I have never resorted to name calling in my posts on this forum, although I have been called many. But Mr. Watson, if you are reading this, you my son are a real turkey and it is about time somebody roasted you and your organization.

  • Cho cho ma

    “As the person in charge of organizing Operation No Compromise for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, I have the responsibility of preparing three ships, a helicopter, and nearly a hundred crewmembers for a four month voyage to one of the most remote and hostile regions of the planet.”

    Looks like Sea Shepherd got a new ship! :)

    Also I would like to point out almost none of Pete Bethunes claims can actually be considered concrete facts.

    • Annie

      Dream on Cho cho…you are being duped by a smarter man than you…

      • imforthewhales

        Pete Bethune has obviously lost this one.

        This really is a non story now.

        Pete got crunched by the Japanese. Everything else is a spin off from that. He should have known that the Japanese whalers would attack his ship, especially one made of foam and carbon fiber. He should have taken precautions and not been so cocky in the face of danger.

      • herwin

        yeah, you got that right. when you look at the video of the collision, you can see mr Bethune and his crew having a holiday on deck doing nothing while the whaling ship comes for them. What a bunch of morons.
        It was great what mr Bethune did, but he definetly lost his cool and credibility the past weeks. He should have bitten the bullet without whining, after all this was just his first campaign unlike Paul who has decades of campaigning. A brused ego thats what it is !
        and indeed its a non story now. :-) nobody will be interested in his book anymore. He should have taken the deal with Paul Watson ; a divorce without a public fight.

      • crumpets are yummy


        It is not that he isn’t brave

        It is not that he isn’t dedicated to the cause

        The problem is that his ego got in the way of making good decisions.

        Decision # 1, DO NOT under any circumstances take the highly dangerous japanese whalers for granted. Pete failed on this one. He was a poor judge and paid of it by more or less allowing the japanese to take him out. Japanese whalers 1, Pete 0

        Decision #2 Boarding a japanese whaling ship to talk to / arrest the captain. yeah right. see decision #1. Japanese whalers 2, pete 0

        Decision #3 On returning home , start bleating about poor treatment by Sea Shepherd. Cop it on the chin, Pete, put away the ego and if you don’t like the soup get out of the kitchen. Sea Shepherd 1, Pete 0

  • Rob

    I used to support SSCS and won’t be doing that anymore. I find this to be reprehensible and doing further research, I find the review of SSCS by Greenpeace and others has been spot on.

    Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Society:
    A Financial Expose
    By Myles Higgins
    Friday, October 7, 2005

    Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace: some facts

    • herwin

      these are nice links, especially the Greenpeace link. I and some friends also find it rather irritating the constant (unfair) attack of PW towards GP. I do find GP a bit too soft for my taste but when you see that japanese GP volunteers were arrested for exposing the illelag whalemeat industry, well, thats cool.
      Paul Watson did however made one point that always stuck with me. He said that on board of the SS vessels only vegan food is served, while on the GP vessels meat is served. That’s just weird and a little bit hypocrite to me ; defending whales because they so inteligent and sensitive, at the same time munching away on cows and pigs. That always was and is a good reason to support SS, because they walk the talk.

      • Robert

        But they don’t walk the talk, they commit actions just as dispicable of what they supposedly fighting.

        For instance, they pollute everytime they attack a Japanese Whaling ship. They through glass bottles of a chemical substance at the shps which break and through glass and chemicals into the ocean. When they shot glass bottles of paint at the Nissan Maru, they sent broken glass and paint into the ocean. When they through the slippery powder on the ships they may cause a Japanese sailor to lowe their footing and slip into the ocean, which is murder if it is from their actions. When they ram the Japanese ships they could disable them, which could cause them to sink; they could damage the hull and cause a fuel leak; or they could injure or kill crew. All of this isn’t good for the ocean or the anti-whaling movement.

        New Zealand has already stated the information provided by Pete Bethune greatly affects their view of Sea Shepherd and their credability. Australia reportedly is seeking to work with Japan to arrest Paul Watson, who if you don’t know is not a real or licensed captian and commits fraud by wearing former coast guard captains rank or merchant marine captains rank.

      • herwin

        Robert, a glass bottle or buteric acid (which is organic and easily decomposable and essentially rotten butter) into the ocean isnt polluting the oceans.
        And unlike what you write, Sea Shepherd don’t ram whaling ships in the arctic waters, that would be indeed very reckless. As you might be aware, its the Japanese who have rammed a Sea Shepherd vessel.
        And last but not least, i really don’t care if mr Watson is a licensed cap’tain or not, as far as i know and as far as i care, anybody who is in charge of a vessel and a crew can call himself cap’tain.
        And yes, Sea Shepherd walks the talk, nothing you say diminishes that.

      • romika3

        ” Sea Shepherd don’t ram whaling ships in the arctic waters” see beginning at 27 sec.

    • imforthewhales

      Yeah right rob,…thanks for posting the Canadian sealers far right wing propoganda on here…btw i have a bridge to sell.

      Anyone interested?

    • Annonymous2

      Thanks for posting the links.

      I believe the oil slick that was photographed by the Japanese was from the Ady Gil, contrary to what the Sea Shepherds claimed, it’s impossible to fully clean full tanks at sea.

      • Michael Raymer

        And your point is……what?

      • Annonymous2

        The point is simple – The Sea Shepherds should have just admitted to scuttling the Ady Gil (due to the amount of damage) instead of the story of it sinking during the night (clearly it didn’t since the whalers were able to approach, find the arrows and take other pictures of the ship). The Sea Shepherds should have also simply stated that in preparing to scuttle the vessel they removed the batteries, and as much oil as possible but it’s impossible to remove it all while at sea, instead they claimed that the slick was from the whalers throwing oil into the water.

        Lies are cheap and credibility is pricless – once you loose credibility it’s gone…

      • Michael Raymer

        I don’t know where you’re getting your info from but SSCS not only admitted to the scuttling but it was shown clearly on Whale Wars. And they also stated that they sanitized the vessel before scuttling. As far as the oil slick, there are two separate points, independent of each other:

        1. I agree that there’s no way to completely remove all the oil, BUT

        2. Whatever remainder of oil that there was shouldn’t have caused a “slick” in Antarctic conditions.

        People with little or no ocean experience get the impression that it’s a giant mill pond out there. Tide, currents and weather all make for a lot of movement of water. So, the jury is out as to what caused the oil slick. But I am skeptical as to an oil slick forming from what little may have been left on the Ady Gil, considering it’s amount and probable rate of seepage. And considering the whalers predilection for lying and dirty tactics, let’s not put it past them to dump some oil into the water just to make a cheap point.

      • Annonymous2

        I got my information from the Sea Shepherds themselves:

        In the article and Paul Watson’s statement they claimd the Ady Gil sank because of weather (which wasn’t the case – PW also claimed at the time that the ship had been under tow for 6-7 hours, above PW states 36 hours) and the amount of water it had taken on. Nothing was released to the press by the Sea Shepherds that they had scuttled the vessel. They only admitted it now because of Petes e-mail (which I also feel has credibility issues) and the Whale Wars program – but they shouldn’t have covered it up at all…cost them credibility.

        I believe the oil slick was from the Ady Gil.

  • Taximan Steve Lindsey

    A letter I submitted to USA Today when the AP story appeared there:

    8 Oct 2010

    To: USA Today
    From: Steven Lindsey
    Re: Letter-to-the-editor—

    Scurvy Dog

    Having sailed Antarctic waters myself aboard a government icebreaker, I am disgusted with the whining of Captain Peter Bethume and his explanation of the loss of his charge, the anti-whaling activist boat Ady Gil (See: Anti-whaling vessel accounts collide, Oct 8.)

    He said he was ordered to scuttle the Gil. So what? In such waters, was it really worth it to tow the wounded Gil all the way back home? To squander fuel on such a fool’s errand? To quit chasing the whaling ships to save a badly damaged motorboat? To allow the body count of cetaceans to mount? Me thinks the good captain forgot the importance of his mission, and began thinking of himself once in Japanese custody.

    Steven W Lindsey
    17 Center Street
    Keene, NH
    For verification, call me at 603-547-7375 or email me at

    Note: Steven Lindsey is a coast guard veteran and was billeted aboard the icebreakers USCGC Northwind, USCGC Westwind and USCGC Polar Sea

    Letter body word count: 119

    • romika3

      So what are you saying? Paul Watson is a Canadian Coast Guard veteran and he doesn’t know a thing except how to peel potatoes in the galley and tell tall tales.

    • WA Jackson

      Interesting. An ex-Coastie who is concerned with “comments” by Bethune while ignoring the reckless, appalling and dangerous actions by the SSCS in international waters.

      One of the primary duties of the U.S. Coast Guard is to insure safe navigation, not to cheer on those who pose a menace on the oceans.

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