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'Whale Wars' Star

I Didn't Sink That Boat

1/16/2013 8:40 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Paul Watson -- the animal rights activist who stars on "Whale Wars" -- tells TMZ he's been FALSELY accused of sinking the famous Ady Gil anti-whaling ship ... and is now pointing the finger at the ship's captain.

We broke the story ... Watson is being sued by the ship's namesake Ady Gil -- who claims he owned the vessel and leased it to Watson's Sea Shepherd organization. In his suit, Gil says the ship suffered minor damage in a fender bender with a Japanese whaling ship in 2010 and could have been repaired -- but Watson secretly had the ship destroyed so he could blame the whalers and gain publicity for his animal rights group.

But, in a statement to TMZ, Watson denies ANY wrongdoing and says ... "It seems like Ady Gil is simply frustrated that he could not get justice from the Japanese whalers who did sink his boat and has decided to lash out at us [Watson and the Sea Shepherd Org.] instead."

Watson claims the person who should REALLY get the blame for the crash is the ship's captain -- Peter Bethune -- who "negligently stopped his ship in the path of the whaling vessel and it was cut in half."

Watson says there is video of the crash that backs up his story.

Watson adds, "Peter Bethune was never under my command and I did not give him any order and I certainly did not order him to destroy his own ship." Watson says he was 250 miles away from the boat at the time of the crash.

Watson says Bethune eventually made the decision to abandon the vessel in the open water because the damage was so extreme, he couldn't tow it to port for repairs.

Bottom line -- Watson says he shouldn't be held responsible for the fate of the boat because "the Ady Gil was not a Sea Shepherd ship and was not under my command."

Check out Watson's entire statement after the jump.

Response from Captain Paul Watson to the Ady Gil Lawsuit
This lawsuit filed by Ady Gil is somewhat mystifying. It seems like Ady Gil is simply frustrated that he could not get justice from the Japanese whalers who did sink his boat and has decided to lash out at us instead.
His timing is also mystifying in that he waited three years and filed this suit just as we arrived in the Sanctuary this year to protect the whales. He also waited until we were battling an injunction by the U.S. Courts filed by Japan at the same time I have been made a fugitive based on accusations by his skipper Pete Bethune.
I really don’t have the time to deal with Mr. Gil’s strange lawsuit until after we have chased the whalers from the Southern Ocean this year, but when we do get around to answering him, I am sure our lawyers will have little trouble dismissing this suit as petty and frivolous.
The Ady Gil was owned by Ady Gil and skippered by Peter Bethune. Ady Gil bought the vessel from Bethune and hired him to be the skipper of the vessel. Pete Bethune selected his own crew. They were not Sea Shepherd crew except for one Sea Shepherd member on board as a liaison. Peter Bethune was never under my command and I did not give him any order and I certainly did not order him to destroy his own ship.
One only needs to watch the video to see that Bethune negligently stopped his ship in the path of the whaling vessel and it was cut in half. New Zealand Maritime Safety investigated the collision and their report clearly states that the loss of the Ady Gil was caused by 50% negligence by Pete Bethune and 50% negligence by the Japanese whalers.
That is the result of the official investigation which contradicts these allegations by Gil.
I was 250 miles away at the time of the incident.
The Ady Gil was cut in two and unsalvageable. Despite this the crew of the Bob Barker not only saved the lives of the Ady Gil crew they thought they might be able to tow it to the French Research base in Antarctica. Towing it back 2000 miles to New Zealand was impossible. The Bob Barker towed it for 35 hours and it was like towing an open bucket through the water. They could not make any progress and with a storm on the horizon the waterlogged halfsunk Ady Gil would soon become a hazard to the Bob Barker.
Finally the Captain of the Bob Barker called me as asked what to do. This conversation was recorded for the program Whale Wars. I said, “It is Pete’s boat and thus Pete’s decision.”
Pete Bethune made the decision to abandon the vessel and Australian Maritime Safety was informed of the fact because it would be a navigational hazard. The vessel was not sunk, it was abandoned and the decision to abandon it was made by Pete Bethune.
Proof of this is that the Japanese crew on the Shonan Maru No. 2 came across the floating half sunk hulk of the Ady Gil the next day.
Pete Bethune had a phone call with the designer of the boat who gave him the opinion that the vessel could not be salvaged. And he was right. The vessel was cut clean in half and her engines flooded. I did ask Bethune if he wanted the Bob Barker crew to salvage the engines for him and he told me that they could not be salvaged.  The vessel was not repairable and considering the remote position of the vessel, it was unrealistic to expect it could be towed, especially since there was 200 miles of ice between the ships and the French Research Station.
We were never in a position to take care of the boat. That responsibility was in the hands of Pete Bethune who worked for Ady Gil, not Sea Shepherd.
Pete Bethune boarded the whaling vessel that destroyed his ship to confront the Japanese captain. He was arrested and brought back to Japan where he made a deal. By accusing me of ordering him to board the whaling ship he received a suspended sentence and the Japanese charged me instead. However as the video evidence shows clearly, I advised Bethune not to board the whaler. He answered that by saying he would take full responsibility for his actions. It appears he had a change of mind.
So to sum up, the Ady Gil was not a Sea Shepherd ship and not under my command. It was owned by Ady Gil and under the command of Pete Bethune. As her captain it was his responsibility to look to the safety and security of his ship. As I was not in command of the Ady Gil I had no part in any decision regarding navigation or operations of the vessel and I made no decision to abandon the vessel.
Ady Gil may have the money and the time to waste on this frivolous lawsuit but we really have much more important priorities, the first of which is to stop the Japanese whaling fleet from illegally killing whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Ady Gil paid Pete Bethune a million dollars for the vessel and now he wants us to give him five million dollars. Unfortunately for him he does not have the evidence to back up these unsubstantiated allegations. We on the other hand videotaped everything.
But the question must be asked: Did Ady Gil send his boat down to the Southern Ocean to support Sea Shepherd’s campaign to save the lives of the whales or was it just to have his name on a boat that would be in a TV show?  Personally I did not get the impression that Mr. Gil was that concerned about the whales. When his name was painted on the boat originally, he told Bethune’s crew to remove it and put it back on in larger letters.

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Paul Watson is a deeply committed and principled human being, and especially if the video evidence backs up his word, he should be, at minimum, afforded the benefit of the doubt in this situation. Instead he is being unreasonably judged and marginalized. This is an intellectual and social travesty.

593 days ago

Jules Destaing    

Paul Watson is just a D-Bag, Lying, S***. He has been this way his entire life. He scuttled a ship in New Zealand, and blamed the French. What a dork.

593 days ago


11/22/2011 Pete posted this on Facebook.

"The suing of Sea Shepherd
There has been a lot of discussion on other pages about my alleged suing of Sea shepherd, so I am writing this to put my perspective on things. I had not wanted this opened in the public like this, however there is so much nonsense being said elsewhere that I must at least put across my view. I will not debate the issue after posting this.
The Earthrace boat was sold to Sea Shepherd / Ady Gil on 20 Nov 2009 for $1.5m. At that stage my debts were $1.6m, so it would have nearly covered the debt I had amassed in constructing the vessel. As part of the deal, Ady Gil paid me $1m on this day, and had the boat named after him. He got ownership of the vessel, and Sea Shepherd got to lease the vessel from him for $1 per year with automatic right of renewal. Ady had no say in crew or where the vessel went. This was entirely up to Sea Shepherd.
At the time Sea Shepherd had limited funds, and so they asked to delay their payment of the $500k until 20th November 2010 - Which I agreed to. This was written in to the Sale and Purchase agreement that was signed by the Sea Shepherd CEO.
A few days later the vessel left New Zealand and went to Australia, then Antarctica, as part of the Waltzing Matilda campaign. It went, according to Paul, as the new Sea Shepherd Harpoon Interceptor Vessel. It was no longer my vessel at all. It was owned by Ady Gil, who in turn leased it to Sea Shepherd. Sea Shepherd were paid by Animal Planet a location fee to film on the vessel, and there was Sea Shepherd branding placed over the hull. My crew were signed up volunteers of Sea Shepherd.
In Antarctica, the vessel was rammed by the Japanese security vessel the Shonan Maru #2. They were the port side vessel and the overtaking vessel, and thus had a legal obligation to keep clear of us. This they failed to do. The maritime Safety report acknowledges we had the right of way. They do also say that once it was clear they were coming very close to us, that we should have vacated the area, however we were being hit by both LRAD and water canons which made communication difficult. It also happened very quickly. By the time we knew they were turning to ram us, it was effectively too late. Added to this we were basically out of fuel, something Sea Shepherd was well aware of leading up to this point.
The vessel’s bow was ripped off. She would not sink, however she sustained considerable damage. A decision was made to tow her to the French base, about 150nm away. While preparing for this, I was instructed by Paul to scuttle the vessel. He instructed me not to tell anyone. Although several crew on the Bob Barker were privy to this, and two went on the Ady Gil when we opened the sea-****s and hatches to allow her to sink. I was not sure if she would sink. I knew she was very light. But I knew she would get progressively heaver and become too difficult to tow as she filled with water.
I went to bed. When I awoke in the morning, I was informed that the Ady Gil tow-line had snapped during the night, and the decision had been made to leave the Ady Gil. We then recreate the scene for Animal Planet where we pretend that the tow-line has just snapped, and I supposedly make the decision to leave the vessel. This entire scene on Whale Wars (during daylight hours) was simply faked because the vessel was left behind hours before (during darkness) when I was asleep, and Sea Shepherd wanted it implied that I had made the decision to leave the vessel. I was instructed not to discuss the above with media, friends, family, and especially not with Ady Gil (at this stage the legal owner of the vessel). Note the Animal Planet crew and my crew were not even told when the vessel was left. This is why there is no footage of us saying goodbye to the vessel we loved.
Sea Shepherd announces generous donations coming in to replace the Ady Gil. A Sea Shepherd fundraiser is also held in the US to raise funds for the new vessel. The media event surrounding the ramming and sinking becomes the biggest Sea Shepherd story in history (according to Paul). At no stage does Paul claim it is not a Sea shepherd vessel. He claims it was a Sea Shepherd vessel that was deliberately rammed by the Japanese. And he rightly claims the Japanese are at fault.
A while later I board the Shonan Maru #2, and am taken back to Japan. I am out of reach for basically 5 months. During this period, several letters from Sea Shepherd to my ex wife confirm that Sea Shepherd will be paying the $500k on 20th November 2010, as per the agreement.
A month before my sentencing in Japan, I am informed that I have been expelled from Sea Shepherd because I took a bow and arrow to Antarctica. The bow and arrow was a tactic Paul had agreed to. On getting out of Japan, Sea shepherd turns up in New Zealand saying in fact I have not been booted out, and I am welcome back on the next campaign in Antarctica. They then take me to the US where I do various media events, including the Jay Leno show with Paul. My fake expulsion Paul claims was simply done to assist my case. My lawyers however hated the expulsion and in no way did they want it to happen. They said to me that it harmed my case more than helped.
While in the US doing media for Sea Shepherd, Paul confirms that the $500k will be paid back to me and my ex-wife when it is due in November 2010.
Over the subsequent months however my position in Sea shepherd becomes more and more difficult as I am squeezed away from the organisation I had dedicated a year of my life to. Sea Shepherd reneges on various agreements we had made.
I get the first suggestions from Sea Shepherd that I may not be getting the $500k because of my legal fees in Japan. Then I am told I have cost Paul Watson loss in freedom because he was placed on the Interpol blue watch over my testimony. In fact my testimony was only a small element in a massive batch of evidence the Japanese had amassed. The prosecutors had so much evidence to trawl through. 3 years of Whale Wars and hundreds of press releases for example. All I ever said in Japan was what my lawyers, hired by Sea Shepherd, had said to - Nothing more, nothing less. They never once said “do not mention Paul”, or anything like that. The main thing they focussed on was “not wanting the bow and arrow” included in evidence. This instruction came from Sea Shepherd. I had no problem with the bow and arrow. I pled guilty to some charges, in exchange for having the bow and arrow and other things not included in the evidence, and this was under instruction from my Sea Shepherd lawyers.
Paul and others have suggested I showed little backbone in Japan because I agreed to certain charges and I spoke to the Prosecutors. “Nobody talks, everyone walks”, has commonly been said. If I took this approach, according to my lawyers, I’d still be in prison today, and my legal fees would run into many millions. In the end, by pleading guilty to 4 charges, I was out in 5 months and our legal fees were about $350k. And this was under instruction from Sea Shepherd lawyers.
Eventually I resign from Sea Shepherd (Paul will argue he expels me a second time) and I come clean about my role in the deliberate scuttling of the Ady Gil.
When the money falls due, it is not paid. After months of sending emails to various people within Sea Shepherd, I am finally informed that I will not be paid because of my role in the ramming.
I hire a lawyer who commences dialogue with Sea Shepherd to recover the funds, but it remains evident that they have no intention of paying, nor will they enter into voluntary arbitration or even discussion on the subject. Eventually I proceed with forced arbitration, a provision included in the original sale and purchase agreement.
Sea Shepherd then threaten me that if I do force them to arbitration, that they will tie me down with numerous counter claims, and that I should simply forget about the $500k.
I proceed with the arbitration, and over the next six months, Sea Shepherd will be forced to front up and explain their case to an Arbitrator. As will I. In a counter claim, Sea Shepherd have said that because of my involvement in the ramming, that I have cost them $500k, which negates the $500k they owe me.
So when Paul says I am suing Sea Shepherd for $500k for the sinking of the Ady Gil. Well in fact the opposite is true. Sea Shepherd is effectively suing me for $500k because of the ramming. I am simply taking to arbitration a party that I have a legally binding contract with that was signed in 2009.
That Sea Shepherd is suing a volunteer for $500k is more an indictment on Sea Shepherd than myself. I cannot find evidence of a single NPO / NGO that has sued their volunteers before. It astounds me that after giving up a large part of my life for this organisation, not to mention my freedom for 5 months in a Japanese prison, that they would have the temerity to summarily charge me $500k and expect me to walk away.
I applaud Paul for what he has achieved. And I have no problem people supporting Sea Shepherd. Paul continues to do good work in the Faroes, Palau, Namibia and other areas. But I also think he should be honest about a debt rightfully incurred in 2009 and that should be paid. If he believes I should be charged $500k, then he should not pretend otherwise to my family and I for twelve months, and then refuse all communication over the issue.
It is a shame that almost 2 years after the ramming, this debate still continues. I wish Sea Shepherd and I could just move on. But it is Sea shepherd who has dragged this out by failing to pay their debt, by failing to enter into arbitration voluntarily, by suing me for the sinking, and now in posting various half-truths that malign me.
I have no intention of continuing this debate further. This post is simply to state the facts as I see them, which differ vastly from many posts propagating around networking sites. From here I wish simply to present my case to the Arbitrator and let them decide. I hope Paul will choose to do the same. And both parties I hope will simply accept the Arbitrators decision and we can all move on.
Those of you who support Sea Shepherd – well I hope you will continue to do so. Those of you who support me, well I hope you will continue with that as well. And I have no problems with those of you who support both. If some of you wish to no longer support me because I have the nerve to force Sea Shepherd to arbitration – well that is your choice and I respect it."

593 days ago

Pet peeves    

Would somebody, anybody harpoon that fat f#ck!!

593 days ago


Captain A Hole is no animal rights activist he's should have his captains lic taken away for the harm he does at sea to PEOPLE including his own crew

593 days ago


Interesting that Paul admits they are negligent. He must have watched the show.

593 days ago


Watson and the Sea Shepherds are doing what most people are not - helping restore nature's balance to this planet and not kissing ass or apologizing for standing up for what they believe in - which benefits everyone on this planet. The real bad guys are the illegal commercial fishing organizations including the fake japanese research expeditions that are illegal and immoral in so many ways - and they never have to deal with all of this drama coming down on them when they are breaking so many laws. He probably resigned because of all of the red tape and bureaucratic nonsense that goes along with most legal systems that are hardly about justice. He is obviously still fighting the good fight in some way. I am with you Mustard. In an ideal world we all would live in harmony and leave each other alone, for the most part, whatever our species. But someone has to make the point and change laws that big businesses force into place that constantly screws up our entire ecosystem and the future for us and other beautiful, intelligent and sensitive creatures. Ady Gil and friends taking advantage of an organization and man that has never seriously injured or killed anyone is just disgusting. How about doing something about Big Oil or getting oceans and forests officially made into sanctuaries, stopping the Blue Fin from being overfished and exploited and so on and so forth. Watson does not deliberately endanger his crew - crew knows what they are in for and Watson does his best to keep everyone safe while accomplishing the mission. All of these ridiculous statements from people who are not aware of the bigger picture are unfortunate. Watson has been under the gun since his Greenpeace days. He's only trying to help Mother Nature -- don't you people realize that one can't be on the side of nature and the health of the planet and refuse to kiss ass or give in to governments or big business without taking a ton of heat? I'm glad he and a few people like him are doing what they're doing. Teddy Roosevelt was another, John Muir, and on and on... If not for people like these we could all be dead already and there'd be no forests or whales or fish or humans. If only the eco-movement could be properly governed and world leaders would get serious about getting behind mother nature and protect her and therefore us, and we humans could live more naturally and with more awareness this world would be a better place.

593 days ago


I used to like watson but he's a coward in so many ways. All the good he's done for animals as been ruined. He expects others to do what he won't do. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Not my hero.

593 days ago


Paul Watson is a hero to the oceans and the life within it. He has my total respect for getting up and doing something to make a change rather then just waving banners and signing protests which while still good are not actually physically doing anything to stop the killings of ocean life. People need to stop hating on him because Sea Shepherd actually make a difference, they save lives and all those sitting on their butts, in front of the safety of their computer screens are doing NOTHING but hating which is a sad waste of life lets face it. Bethune however was the one responsible for the ramming of the Ady Gil boat and the one responsible for letting it go. All the evidence is on the do***ented series Whale Wars for all to see. Now for the whales, the sharks, the dolphins etc I thank Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherds. I will always have enormous amounts of respect for them as they will never give up fighting to protect the life within the ocean.

593 days ago


Paul Watson is a hero to the oceans and so someone I admire for getting up and doing something to make a change, for fighting for the whales, the sharks, the dolphins etc. People need to stop with the hating but that seems to be human nature, to hate on those who are making a change because they are either to bone idle to do anything or just don't care for the lives of our fellow earthlings. The sinking of the boat the Ady Gil was Bethune's fault for winding up the Japanese whalers and then shutting down his engines and simply waiting for them to hit the boat and he himself then decided to leave the wreckage behind. The evidence is all on the do***entary Whale Wars. Paul Watson is and always will be my hero because he will never give up on the whales or other life in the oceans.

593 days ago


Another Article where Pro Whalers, Pro Sealers, Sea Shepherd Haters and Pete Bethune Supporters come to bag on Paul Watson. Pro Whalers and Sealers you can understand. Haters will always Hate. But Pete Bethune supporters need a reality check. Pete Bethune and Ady Gil have basically done nothing except make friends with all the haters and animal killers. Ady Gil openly pays for young girls. And Pete Bethune has spent the majority of his life hunting and killing Animals. The sinking of Petes boat was caused through Negligence partly on Petes side as stated and excepted by Pete from Maritime NZ. Paul Watson has spent his entire life protecting Our planet and the creatures that live on it. Paul has also been voted by "Time Magazine" on several occasions as one of the planets Top Environmentalists and most influential people. Pete Bethune, Ady Gil and the rest of these haters will never in their whole miserable lives be voted by Time as anything other than miserable maybe.

593 days ago


I see that one of the comments accuses Captain Paul Watson of sinking the Rainbow Warrior and blaming the French. That sounds as credible as Ady Gil’s ridiculous accusations about Captain Watson destroying the Ady Gil for publicity. It is probably all true however because I heard Captain Watson was also on the grassy knoll the day Kennedy was shot and he was seen grabbing the wheel of the Costa Concordia and running that ship into the rocks in Italy

I have only one question about all this: How many whales has Ady Gil saved?

593 days ago

Boo Radley     

What a massive amount of mouth gunk you trolls write.

I see that one of the comments accuses Captain Paul Watson of sinking the Rainbow Warrior and blaming the French. That sounds as credible as Ady Gil’s ridiculous accusations about Captain Watson destroying the Ady Gil for publicity. It is probably all true however because I heard Captain Watson was also on the grassy knoll the day Kennedy was shot and he was seen grabbing the wheel of the Costa Concordia and running that ship into the rocks in Italy

I have only one question about all this: How many whales has Ady Gil saved?

593 days ago

Boo Radley     

What a heap of carry on you pro whaling trolls go on with. Pete Bethune had plenty of time to get out of the way of the Shonun Maru 2 and had enough fuel on board for days. Do you really think SSCS and Paul Watson would just leave them in the middle of the ocean like a sitting duck for the evil Shonun Maru's Captain to ram them? The fact of the matter is that Pete was careless and underestimated his enemy.

593 days ago


The video proves that yes, the boat got hit. Duh. We know that. What's in question is weather or not he gave the order to sink the ship. I tend to think he did. For TV ratings. If the boat was being towed and sank in the middle of the night, this seems too suspicious. I used to have respect for Paul Watson, but frankly I don't any more. I think what he does is to be applauded, but I question his motives, as I think they are often self-serving.

593 days ago
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