9 Jun 2010

'Conflict' within Sea Shepherd over Bethune ban

8:50 pm on 9 June 2010

The wife of anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune says the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's decision to ban him from future missions is causing conflict within the organisation.

Sea Shepherd has banned Mr Bethune from anti-whaling protest action, saying he broke the society's policy by taking a bow and arrows on board the protest boat Ady Gil.

Mr Bethune is facing charges of assault and trespass in Japan, with a decision expected later this week.

Sharyn Bethune says Sea Shepherd supporters are unsure what has motivated the head of the organisation, Paul Watson, to make the statement.

It appears, she says, that he believes the decision will aid Mr Bethune's husband's defence in court - however, it will be more of a hindrance, and supporters may leave the society over it.

Paul Watson for his part told Checkpoint that he didn't even know Mr Bethune had brought a bow and arrows aboard the Ady Gil.

Mr Watson says the activist was banned from protest action because possession of a weapon is a serious violation of Sea Shepherd policy but it's not serious enough to warrant expulsion.

He says Sea Shepherd has not ruled him out of future involvement in its activities, and he believes the ban will help his case - to which, Mr Watson says, the organisation has made significant financial contributions.