Pete Bethune Interview : Part One

Pete Bethune Interview – Part One:

Recently John Taylor from Protect The Ocean got a chance to chat with Pete Bethune. The session has been turned into several videos, which we are editing at this very moment and hope to be able to provide to you shortly.  A transcription and additional details will be posted as they become available.

First, a preface from JT:  People sometimes look at this as an awesome life, working on issues that matter (to us and the world,) being involved, in the heart of things.  To be honest, it’s a job (per se) like any other.  We who do it are glad that we’re able to, but we tend to see it as what we do, just like anyone else.  It’s kinda like Tia Marie Torres from “Pitbulls and Parolees” says, “It is my hope that one day I won’t have to.”  Not a one of us has any higher a hope than to live in a world where what we work towards is an everyday thing — where people are always conscious and responsible about their impact on the planet, the freshwater and oceans of the world, and are caring and considerate towards the creatures that live in and on this earth, people amongst them.  Until that happens, we who work towards those ends have no real choice but to keep up the fight, do do what we can, whatever we can, to save the planet and all that lives here from what looks to be a certain and impending destruction.  Some realistic estimates say that unless we are successful very soon, this earth’s oceans have just a couple decades, a score of years left to live.

One of the perks of the job is getting to be in touch with some of the awesome people of like minds, people who inspire with their heroism, their tireless dedication and their vision.  One of those, one of my favorite people, is Pete Bethune.  You’ve never met a nicer, more honest guy.  Of course, we’re all human, and working together we get to see each other putting our pants on one leg at a time.  That said, Pete’s just an amazing person.  No false platitudes, no airs of importance.   It’s downright funny how modest he is sometimes.  Seriously, it can be a riot to watch him blush!   Living on opposite sides of the globe, though we’d had a fair bit of communication on matters of common interest, the first time we “met” face to face was when I was in a video conversation with Kerry O’Brien, a marine mammal medic friend in New Zealand, and Pete happened to stroll on in.  “Well hello, Pete!” it began.  Arrangements were made, and a few days later we recorded this interview via Skype.  Enjoy!

Video: Pete Bethune Interview

J: This is John Taylor, Protect The Ocean. We have the pleasure of having Pete Bethune with us today. Hi, Pete, how are ya?

P: Hello John, it’s very good to be here, fantastic, man.

J: Pleased to have ya, I appreciate you taking the time. I know you’ve got a lot going on and actually, that’s one of the things I wanted to ask you about. I understand that you’ve, since leaving Sea Shepherd have got another organization started, that it’s been – quite intensive plans. Tell me a little bit about that.

P: I spent a lot of time when I was in prison thinking about what I wanted to do and marine conservation is what I do so I just looked at possible places where I could add some value and originally I though these might be Sea Shepherd campaigns and subsequently, finishing up with them has given me the opportunity to form this new organization, it’s called Earthrace Conservation. We just work on marine conservation, and trying to come up with some campaigns where other NGOs (Non-government organizations) aren’t involved, maybe some areas where maybe it may be a bit more dangerous, or areas that other people are shying away from, and maybe we can add some value

J: What sort of things are you talking about? I know that we’ve talked about some plans for the Faroe Islands, and of course I think Sea Shepherd has already been and gone and is no longer welcome there. What do you have in mind for the Faroes?

P: Well the Faroe campaign is probably the one high profile one that we have in the pipeline, and we started off with it… Sea Shepherd may be going there as well… but the plan is to get over a thousand people there over the three months, so at any one time we’re hopeful of having 200 people there, and with that we can cover pretty much the entire group of islands, and with that many people when a Grind does happen, we can guarantee at least to get 20 or 30 people down into that area reasonably quickly, and we’ll have plenty of people on the islands to see when they go out to bring in the different whales, so in terms of tactics, I don’t think we want to go revealing them now but… the key thing is to have a lot of people there, and be prepared to get out there and stir things up a bit. (Learn More About: Faroe Islands Dolphin Slaughter)

J: That’s certainly a large group of people. We’ve had, within our board we’ve had a lot of discussion. The Danish people try to separate themselves from the Faroes, and of course we argue back that they’re receiving funds from them, that they’re enjoying all the benefits of it, and yet denying things like the European prohibition against the killing of Pilot Whales.

P: Yes, they’ve been a bit disingenuous the way that they’ve approached it. The fact is that 15% of the Faroe Islands’ GNP now is coming from Denmark, so they’re really beholding to Denmark and part of our strategy is to say “Look, the Faroes is part of you guys, Demark has got to sort this issue out. And when 15% of your economy depends on Denmark, that holds some sway over the Faroes, so I believe we can put some pressure both on the Faroe Islands and on the Danish, try to make the Danes embarrassed. And it is a disgrace. Just to have a thousand whales being killed in these little fjords, when the particular little piece of Europe – and the Faroes DOES benefit from being part of ??? … So you look at some things, and whether there will be other boats up there or not I don’t know, but we’re going to go there and give it a crack anyway.

J: Outstanding, outstanding. I’d like to talk a little bit about, if you would, the differences in the ways that things are accomplished. I know that (without getting deep into it, we’ll leave that in the past,) there are certain distinctions in the manners of leadership. One of the things I’ve noticed about you, Pete, in the past year or so, is that you’re a man who kinda leads by example. You don’t put people out there to do things you don’t do yourself.

P: Well, I am probably not so good at telling other people what to do – so much so that I’ve found in the past that people do respect you if you’re prepared to go out and do something, they’re prepared to do the same. And, you know, the crew that I’ve had on vessels before, as an example, they know if I ask them to go and do something, I’ve probably done it before, or I’m prepared to go and do it. And if you’re not afraid to do the dirty jobs, I think that your crew kinda respects you for that, and … There’s many ways to lead teams, and other people have other ways that maybe works for them, but I’ve certainly found that when I go ahead and jump in, people go and and follow in what we’re doing. It does get harder as your organization does get larger or grown it gets harder to do that.


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