Finding an exact number of whales saved is not particularly easy–especially when the crew members of the Sea Shepherd will take whatever numbers they can take. According to an article from the Los Angeles times, because Japan fell 305 minke whales and 49 fin whales short of their permitted take from those populations, Captain Paul Watson and his crew members claim to have “saved” those 354 whales. Moreover, Watson claims to have saved a total of 1,083 in the previous years of the show.
However, to say that his vessel is having a dramatic impact is slightly misplaced. The second article I have attached (Huffington Post) explains not only the damage that the Sea Shepherd is doing to the Japanese whaling industry, but also how Watson’s efforts could have been more strategically placed to have an even more positive impact on the whale population. Working on an international and political level will have the desired effects to save the whale population–not lobbing bottles of butyric acid at Japanese whaling vessels. The author, Richard Spilman, puts it this way: “Negotiating international agreements may not make for rousing ‘reality TV’ but it has made a significant difference in actually ‘saving the whales.'”
So, to answer the question more directly, I can’t say that I have found the Sea Shepherd to have made a huge impact in terms of saving the whales compared to politicians who have similar interests. Granted, they have literally stopped whales from being killed, however I think that fact only credits the Sea Shepherd to have saved maybe a few hundred whales.
While the efforts are noble, I feel that Watson’s passion for whales is misplaced–he could be saving more whales if he broadened his approach considerably.
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