It's been a couple months since Captain Pete Bethune (then of Sea Shepherd) was given a suspended sentence by Japanese authorities for boarding the Japanese whaler which ran down the Ady Gil and attempting to deliver their captain a bill for the sunken ship. Well, things have decidedly gone sour between Bethune and Sea Shepherd since then, with Bethune now claiming, in an interview with New Zealand National Radio and elsewhere that Paul Watson ordered Bethune to scuttle the Ady Gil to "garner sympathy with the public and to create better TV". Before we go any further into Bethune's allegations (and they go much farther than just the Ady Gil incident, let me tell you), I would be remiss to point out that the better television Watson is alleged to want to help create would be for Whale Wars, which is broadcast by TreeHugger's colleagues over at Animal Planet.
WATCH VIDEO - Whale Wars: The Ady Gil Collision
Bethune Says He Acted Under Orders to Scuttle Million-Dollar Ship
According to Bethune, after the Ady Gil and the whaler Shonan Maru 2 collided, shearing off the bow of the Sea Shepherd vessel, Paul Watson "wanted me to scuttle the Ady Gil. He said there was no point in towing the boat all the way to the French base, and that it would be best if the boat was just sunk and we could get on with chasing the whalers. Later that day, Chuck and I went to the Ady Gil, and I performed the necessary tasks with Chuck observing. Ady Gil then gradually took on water, and later that night she was left to sink, while the Bob Barker move on to pursue the fleet." (Ecorazzi)
Bethune told the AP, "Paul Watson was my admiral. He gave me an order and I carried it out. I was ashamed of it at the time and I'm ashamed of it now."
Watson categorically denies the allegations, "No-one order him to scuttle it. Pete Bethune was captain of the Ady Gil, all decisions on the Ady Gil were his." (BBC News)
As TreeHugger reported at the time, in January 2010, the sinking of the Ady Gil was presented to the world as the inevitable consequence of the collision with the whaler. Watson's said at the time, "I think they were towing for about six or seven hours. Even the act of towing was taking more water on. The Japanese vessel had cut the vessel completely in half and made it unseaworthy."
Complicating matters is the fact that Watson says he asked Bethune on camera for Whale Wars if the vessel should be scuttled and Bethune agreed.
Clearly Bethune felt pressure, from some source, and now regrets his actions: "I felt horrid, before, during and after the scuttling and I have felt terrible ever since. It broke me heart [sic] to sink a vessel that had been such a big part of my life, and I also felt like we had betrayed SSCS sponsors, SSCS supporters, Ady Gil, and the public by lying about it. It was a totally dishonest thing to do and as a conservation group, the order is a total breach of ethics. I sincerely regret my role in this. I apologize unreservedly to Ady Gil, and Sea Shepherd Volunteers and supporters, all of whom I have let down. It was the wrong thing to do, and while I was under orders to do so, I should have refused to carry out the instructions. I am resigning from Sea Shepherd forthwith."
WATCH VIDEO - Whale Wars: A Life Destroyed (Pete Bethune talking as he watches the Ady Gil sink.)
Carrying Bow & Arrow Authorized by Watson - Watson Shooting Faked
That's just a taste of what Paul Watson says is Bethune's bitterness with Sea Shepherd and what Bethune calls genuine concerns about the ethical integrity of the senior personnel of the organization, who he now calls "morally bankrupt".
Ecorazzi has a longer account of the war of words launched from Bethune's Facebook page. Further allegations include:
Contrary to statements made by Sea Shepherd during Bethune's pre-trial jailing in Japan that Bethune had not been authorized to carry a bow and arrow during the Antarctic campaign, Bethune says that the idea was to use to coat the arrows in some sort of poison, fire them into dead whales as they were being transferred for processing. He adds, "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."
Bethune also takes issue with his false expulsion from Sea Shepherd during his trial, says that the shooting of Paul Watson during shooting the first season of Whale Wars was faked, and that there was no secret deal with the Japanese judiciary for leniency.
You Don't Need to Lie to Get People to Support the Cause
Concluding his concerns, Bethune says, "What really concerns me is the apparent moral bankruptcy of senior SSCS personnel... The organization 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 organization increasingly propagates through media."
This is really just the tip of all this. Here are more links if you want to wade in deeper:
- Ady Gil himself on Pete Bethune's claims: Ady Gil - Pete's words.... and my 2 cents
- Sea Shepherd - Sea Shepherd Breaks All Ties With Pete Bethune
- Ecorazzi - Pete Bethune Blasts Sea Shepherd In Online Letter of Resignation BBC News - Sea Shepherd 'sank its own anti-whaling boat'
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More on Sea Shepherd:
Japan Kills Sea Shepherd Anti Whaling Ship. For Scientific Research?
Sea Shepherd's Captain Pete Bethune Given Suspended Sentence by Japanese Authorities
Sea Shepherd Cuts Japanese Whale Catch in Half
Sea Shepherd's Bob Barker Collides With Japanese Whaler (Video)
Sea Shepherd's Ady Gil Sinks, After Bow Cut Off by Japanese Whaling Ship