Due to his sometimes robust methods, Paul Watson is one of the most controversial personalities of the environmental movement. However, it is undeniable that his activities fill a void left by the impotence of nations to enforce the law in international waters. In his absence Michelle Rodriguez, star of the acclaimed movie Avatar and anti whaling activist, was presented with the Chromy award for Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd, at Cannes on Tuesday 23rd May 2012. It is the firm conviction of Anna Chromy, as well as that of the Directors of the Conscience Institute that Paul Watson can be rightly considered a “Conscience” of our times, for his persistent fight against illegal whale poaching in the Antarctic, against shark finning, which causes the cruel death of millions of sharks deprived of their fins, and other sea animals slaughtered for the profit of a few. The award presentation was held on the beach terrace of the Martinez Hotel and featured a live video link with Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd and one of the Chromy Awards nominees. He was unable to attend the event due to his arrest in Germany the previous week on grounds of his anti-shark-finning activism in Costa Rica ten years ago. Anna Chromy herself presented the first ‘Chromy Award’ to Paul Watson. The trophy, which is a bronze replica of her world-famous marble ‘Cloak’, was held for Paul by Michelle Rodriguez until he was able to receive it in person. Rodriguez, herself a member of the Sea Shepherd Foundation, was invited to the judicial committee of The Chromys. She carried influence in the decision of who the finalists were for the Chromy Awards in early 2013. Founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Paul Watson was also one of the founding members and directors of Greenpeace. In fact, he was officially the eighth founding member. Robert Hunter was the first, and his lifetime membership number was 000. His wife Roberta Hunter was second and her membership number was 001. Watson’s official membership number was and continues to be 007.
Paul Watson was born in Toronto, Canada, on December 2, 1950. At six years old, he and his family moved to the lobster fishing town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea in New Brunswick. The eldest of seven children, Watson lived there until January 1964 when his mother died and his father returned the family to Toronto. His father was Anthony Joseph Watson, a French-Canadian born in New Brunswick, Canada. His mother was Annamarie Larsen, the daughter of a Danish artist Otto Larsen and Canadian Doris Phoebe Clark.
In 1960, Watson was a member of the Kindness Club, founded by Aida Flemming in New Brunswick. After trappers killed one of his beaver friends, Watson set out, (at the age of nine), to confiscate and destroy leg-hold traps. He was also known to disrupt deer and duck hunters, and to prevent other boys from shooting birds.
In 1967, Watson left home to work at Expo 67 in Montreal and then rode the rails to Vancouver where he worked on the Canadian Pacific Steamship Princess Marguerite as a fireman. In 1968, Watson joined the Canadian Coast Guard. His first ship was the weathership C.C.G.S. Vancouver. In 1969, Watson joined the crew of the Norwegian bulk carrier Bris on a voyage to Asia and Africa. Early voyages with the Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish, and British merchant marine provided him with experience on all the world’s oceans, including weathering typhoons in the South China Sea, North Atlantic storms in the iceberg-strewn northern latitudes of the Atlantic and navigating the war zones of the Persian Gulf.
He served in the Canadian Coast Guard for two years in the early seventies on weatherships, buoy tenders and on a search and rescue hovercraft.
To continue reading about the exciting exploits of Watson and his compatriots, click here – the story continues with more details about the founding of Sea Shepherd and these first two important campaigns.
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