The SSCS is a US-based vigilante marine conservation organization known for its direct action tactics and aggressive work to fight against poaching and whaling. It was founded in 1977 as the Earthforce Environmental Society by Paul Watson after he was expelled from the Greenpeace board of directors due to conflicts over their pacifist approach. Over the last four decades, the SSCS has embarked on a number of campaigns and engaged in a variety of tactics to combat whaling, sealing, and illegal fishing, including using water cannons, shining laser lights, sinking, scuttling, sabotaging, vandalizing, boarding, or damaging ships, throwing stink bombs, and surveillance — in addition to more traditional approaches such as protests, marches, lawsuits, and information campaigns. These strategies have had mixed results, producing several notable successes over the years but also costing them allies who would otherwise share the same goals. Critics say that such extreme tactics will only make offenders more determined to continue, while others have expressed admiration for the group’s determination and dedication to their cause.
The SSCS is perhaps best known from the Animal Planet TV show Whale Wars, which aired from 2008 to 2015 and focused on their fight to stop Japanese whaling ships. Their efforts ended when the International Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that Japan’s whaling program did not qualify as research and ordered them to cease all activity in the Antarctic. However, the show also highlighted many of the SSCS’s more violent tactics, and the organization is still considered a terrorist group by Japan. In 2017, Paul Watson opted to cease surveillance of the Southern Ocean due to the fact that their fleet could not keep pace with the military tracking technology used by Japan
This is the SSCS mission statement:
Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.
Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.