William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review


Gerry Nagtzaam


This Article critically examines the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its self-appointed role to protect oceanic life. In Part I, the Article examines the history of this radical environmental group, the role performed by its charismatic leader, Paul Watson, its organizational structure, its strategies and tactics, its governing philosophy, and its attitudes to violence. Part II provides a history of the various direct actions carried out by the group; it examines the organization’s ongoing confrontations with the Japanese whaling fleet, documents the current legal travails the group and its leader are experiencing, and asks whether its methods are counterproductive to its stated goals. Part III critically evaluates the group’s claims that they are acting at the behest of international law, finding that such claims are fallacious. It goes on to evaluate the international maritime law that the group could potentially be subject to in light of recent legal developments.