Pete Bethune, the captain of the Ady Gil, the ship that sank after a collision with a Japanese whaling vessel, now says that the ship was salvagable but Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson wanted to let it sink to get more publicity, a charge Watson says isn’t true. Footage of the incident was part of Whale Wars‘ third season.
Bethune called Sea Shepherd’s leaders “morally bankrupt” because he said that the boat “was definitely salvageable, it was still rock solid from the engine room back,” but Paul Watson wanted to let it sinkto “garner sympathy with the public and to create better TV,” he told Radio New Zealand, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. “I think an organisation that relies on public money and public generosity to survive has an obligation to be honest.”
Watson has denied the charge and Radio Australia reports he’s considering legal action against Bethune. Sea Shepherd has documented the sinking of the Ady Gil on its web site, and that report includes both a statement from Bob Barker captain Chuck Swift confirming that “Pete never shared any hesitation or concern” about letting the boat sink.
It also includes footage from Whale Wars that isn’t quite a smoking gun either way: Bethune talks about not wanting to watch it sink, and we see people telling him that it’s his decision. I’m sure if there were any filmed conversations about letting it sink for publicity instead of salvaging it, they would have been included on the show, which isn’t produced, edited, or screened by Sea Shepherd.
Previously, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the two men were “locked in an angry dispute over fallout from the New Zealand skipper’s Japanese trial, according to emails seen by the Herald,” because “Bethune has demanded to join the coming Antarctic campaign in apparent defiance of an undertaking by the anti-whaling group to Japanese authorities.”