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Sea Shepherd Australia Board Requests the Resignation of Paul Watson

Tuesday, 06 Dec, 2022

A Statement from Sea Shepherd Australia's Board of Directors

Today, a unanimous resolution of the board of directors of Sea Shepherd Australia (SSA) has officially requested that Paul Watson resigns as a board member.   

Paul Watson will predictably claim that this statement is an "attack" on him.  

However, for the past two months, SSA has maintained a dignified silence, hoping to resolve the issues with Paul Watson internally, despite deliberate efforts by Paul Watson to directly and indirectly subvert, defame, intimidate and bully the board of directors, some of whom have received threats; including threats of physical violence from persons incited by Paul Watson through the toxic social media climate that he has created and encouraged.  

Paul Watson has engaged in a coordinated online smear campaign, causing reputational and financial damage to an Australian organization to which he has a fiduciary responsibility while remaining as a director.  

The claims that SSA has abandoned direct action are categorically false. SSA continues to proudly support the efforts of the Sea Shepherd Global fleet which has assisted government partners around the continent of Africa to arrest over 70 vessels for illegal fishing, each of them a floating slaughterhouse shut down; while also confiscating hundreds of kilometres of illegal fishing gear and freeing countless animals from hooks and nets. Paul Watson has extensively lauded these campaigns in the past and has also claimed responsibility for their implementation. These direct action campaigns are currently operating and there are absolutely no plans to stop. 

We suspect Paul Watson will falsely claim other boards silenced him from speaking out about his “true feelings” on those direct action campaigns in the past, but the SSA board trusts Sea Shepherd supporters know Paul Watson as a person who has always spoken his mind. Paul Watson could not possibly have been compelled to speak as positively, and as glowingly, of these campaigns as he has.      

Paul Watson has pushed a conspiracy theory that there is an insidious relationship between SSA and an Australian fishing company. There is no partnership between SSA and any fishing company, including by Paul Watson's own written admission. Paul Watson is well-aware that an Australian fishing company gave $50,000 in a government undertaking – as a directive of a Northern Territory government agency – which financed the first remote marine debris campaign, working with Aboriginal rangers to remove plastic waste from country in the north of Australia. Paul Watson is not only well-aware of this, but he also promoted and voted in favour of accepting these funds, writing about it extensively in a commentary titled ‘The Challenge of Arnhem Land’ posted on the 1st of October 2018. 

Paul Watson has also claimed that the SSA board ignored him for three months, while later confirming that he had attended a board meeting within that period. He posted a number of questions on social media that he claimed remained unanswered, when indeed, answers had been provided, including to those questions that he already knew the answers to.   

While serving as a director, Paul Watson has been promoting the Captain Paul Watson Foundation  – named after himself – in Australia, seeking to draw donations away from SSA during the annual Ocean Defence Tour, a SSA effort to raise funds for direct action campaigns. Instead of promoting the Ocean Defence Tour, Paul Watson has been urging supporters to donate to his newly-created religious organization, the Church of Biocentrism, while making defamatory and false statements about SSA.  

The SSA board recognises that Paul Watson was placed on administrative leave before resigning from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (U.S.A.), and that he has been removed from Sea Shepherd Global.  

However, the decision by the SSA board to ask for his resignation is separate to this, and the reasons are specific to Australia.  

It is inconceivable that a person can remain a director of SSA while bullying fellow directors; leaking confidential information; placing his personal interests in direct conflict with his duty as a director to act in its best interests by running a parallel organization with a similar mission statement; and causing financial damage to the organization to which he has a legal and moral responsibility.   

We respect the work that Paul Watson has carried out for the oceans but cannot respect his behaviour over the past few months.   

SSA and its directors are not interested in engaging in an online debate with Paul Watson, and will continue in its obligations to its staff, supporters, volunteers and donors to get on with the critical work to save marine wildlife.

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