The idea of the need to form a body to coordinate the anti-whaling activities in the world was proposed by Paul Watson when he formed the earth force. The sea shepherd was registered in 1981 as an anti-whaler and anti-sealer but later expanded to incorporate the other marine life (Sea shepherd conservation society 2010).
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The sea shepherd was formed as an organization to police the international waters and help combat the illegal and indiscriminate exploitation of sea life. In the course of doing its self-appointed duties, it has come into contact with many anti and pro-whaling activists, and the results of each encounter have impacted the reputation of the sea shepherd either positively or negatively (Sea shepherd, n.d).
How is this issue impacting the reputation of the organization?
The sea shepherd has been associated with cases of abuse and violence against the sea whalers and sealers. They use an aggressive approach and face-to-face confrontation to stop the poachers’ activities and ensure that the governments, together with the general public are informed of what is going on through rallies (Sea Shepherd: Save Our Sharks, 2010).
The members of this organization harass and use violence on the poachers and this has at times led to threats against the crew from the fishing communities from all over the world; indeed, they have been denied transport passes, deported, jailed, and even harassed in many instances. The organization operates from donors funding as it is a non-profit making organization; therefore, the reputation it has is of significant importance given that a loss in reputation can have dire consequences such as loss/cutting of the funding or may increase the opponents for its operations (Sea Shepherd: Save Our Sharks, 2010).
A company’s reputation emanates from the way the people affected by the company tend to view it, mainly based on personal experiences an individual has concerning the organization. The reputation of an organization is therefore based on the opinion that people have regarding the organization’s model and scope of operations in the past and plans for the future.
Different groups of people have different opinions and a different gauge for measuring the company’s reputation, given that each group is interested in a different aspect of the organization. In the case of the sea shepherd, a group may examine its reputation by looking at its accomplishments in protecting the sea life, its relationship with other similar organizations like Greenpeace, or even how it gets in areas where other similar organizations are unproductive (Organizational reputation, n.d).
A good reputation helps to build support for the organization as the stakeholders have a well-defined view of the organization’s plans for the future. This also helps to overcome problems as the stakeholders have an interest in seeing the organization prosper.
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The sea shepherd rivalry with the Greenpeace
Greenpeace was the predecessor to the sea shepherd. Paul Watson was a founder member of Greenpeace and founded the sea shepherd. Paul was a member of Greenpeace until he was expelled in 1977, due to ideological differences, after staying with the organization since 1971 (Greenpeace, 2010). The split has brought about many conflicts between the two organizations. Greenpeace is a strict adherer and observer of human rights and believes that there are many ways to resolve the poaching issues in the waters of the world without resulting in the use of violence. This is in contrast to the sea shepherd which beliefs in and constantly employs violence (Greenpeace, 2010). This rivalry of two organizations dealing with the same problems has led to the stakeholders questioning the commitment of the two in their quest and the reasons for the rivalry.
This has led to such theories as Paul Watson is trying to show the Greenpeace movement that the sea shepherd is better than his former organization from which he was forcibly removed. The outcome of this is that it has made the donors question the morality behind the organization and feel as if they are being used to fund a self-vendetta against Greenpeace instead of funding an organization that is serious about saving the endangered sea life (Greenpeace 2010).
Sea shepherd use of violence
The sea shepherd has had a long history, since its incorporation, of using violence against the fishermen and the poachers. The members of this organization do this by sinking the fishing ships and trawlers or by destroying them. This they do by ramming at them or opening their sea valves thereby destroying them. Basically, this is not perceived as violence to them because they say that they have never harmed anyone in the course of their work. However, other stakeholders in the company do not view it so. Greenpeace is widely outspoken against this use of violence since it sees it as achieving negative results among the poaching communities such as Japan. They say that when the fishing communities are threatened with violence, they are inclined to fish more as they hit back on those threatening them. Indeed, they will not change their behaviors but will continue to poach especially when the groups intimidating them are not around anymore (Activists disagree on whaling protests, 2008).
The use of violence led to the organization being removed from the group of observers for the international whaling commission in 1986 and this was followed by the announcement by IWC’s secretary in 1994 when he referred to Paul as a terrorist (Sea Shepherd, 1994).
Changes in public opinion in relation to the organization and the issue
The issue of whaling came head-on after commercial whaling was illegalized in 1986 and this did not augur well with the countries like Japan and Norway and even Iceland who were traditional whalers. Norway officially opposed this, and together with the other countries opposed to Sea Shepherd, applied for the license to hunt for academic research (Scientific Slaughter, 2010).
Norway has since then commenced commercial hunting but Japan still hunts under the guise of academic research. Issues pertaining to the hunting of whales have at times led to confrontations between the whalers and the sea shepherd. These whalers are mainly of Japanese origin and this has and is continuing as witnessed by the arrest of an anti-whaling protestor (Japan indicts NZ anti-whaling activist, 2010).
In a meeting in Japan of the international whaling committee, Japan hosts fed the participants with whale meat, saying that they wanted them to have a taste and know how good the meat was. This tends to show the IWC that it has no power to dictate to the Japanese what to do and what not to do (Scientific Slaughter, 2010).
Since the introduction of the ban on the commercialization of whale meat, the public outlook on the way the sea shepherd does its duties has changed as the organization went beyond the set rules and regulations and took law into its own hands. They have guns and although they claim to use them for defense, the public sees this as a cover to hind their real intent for they are the ones who provoke the whalers (Sea Shepherd, 1994).
This can also be seen by the resignation of the then sea shepherd president in 1991, who was protesting against the changing rules of the organization together with the philosophy on hurting others or the use of weapons. This affected the organization’s image as it led to the loss of confidence and trust in the organization (Sea Shepherd, 1994).
The use of weapons by this organization led to the public viewing it as a renegade group that had no respect to the laws hence was not different from the whalers it was running after. Moreover, Watson once ordered his crew to fire at a vessel belonging to a Japanese fishing group; he issued orders for cannon fire while the targeted vessel was still occupied, leading to many people seeing these activities as works of terrorists (Sea Shepherd, 1994).
How the issue is impacting the relationship between the organization and its publics
The increased losses between the whalers and the activists are skyrocketing each day as each party wants to hold it stand and not be pressured by the other. These are in form of boats that are sunk by the other party, leading to increased rivalry between the two (Onevike, 2010).
Continued use of violence has distanced Greenpeace further from the sea shepherd as the two do not agree on the limitations that they should observe to ensure that they get results. The heightened scope of these conflicts has led to like-minded people contributing large sums of money to ensure that the sea shepherd acquires machinery and boats that will give them an advantage over the whalers. Indeed, these conservationists have come together to fight the common evil (Onevike, 2010).
The general public has had mixed views about this as they comprise both the anti and pro-whalers. Basically, the anti-whalers support while the pro-whaling opposes the activities of these activists. Indeed, their activities have led to them conflicting with the law in the course of doing their duties. Moreover, this has led to arrests, jail terms, fines, being denied entry to some countries among other things (Sea Shepherd 1994).
The reputation of an organization is very important for it determines how the stakeholders in the organization relate to it. Since the personal view, an individual has on the organization is what determines the way he/she interprets its reputation, an organization has different reputations. The PR determines the opinion the stakeholders have because they react to the information they have; hence the organization can control the information it releases to the public.
For an organization especially, that depends on the public goodwill to existing, it should mind about how the public sees it because that is what the public will use as the means of gauging it to decide whether to associate or dissociate with the organization.
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Activists disagree on whaling protests. (2008). Activists disagree on whaling protests, The Sydney Morning Herald. Web.
Greenpeace. (2010). Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace: some facts. Web.
Japan indicts NZ anti-whaling activist. (2010). Japan indicts NZ anti-whaling activist The Sydney. Web.
Onevike. (2010). Extreme Terrorist Group, “Sea Shepherd” Takes Financial Hit with the Sinking of their Batmobile Boat. Web.
Organizational reputation. (attached material).
Sea shepherd conservation society. (2010). The History of Sea Shepherd: On the Front Lines of Direct Action Marine Conservation. Web.
Sea shepherd. Sea Shepherd’s Violent History. Web.
Sea Shepherd. (1994). Sea Shepherd’s Record of Violence, The High North News Extra, no. 7. Web.
Sea Shepherd: Save Our Sharks. (2010). Sea Shepherd: Save Our Sharks. Web.
Scientific Slaughter. (2010). Scientific Slaughter: Japan and the Whales. Web.