Interview with Sea Shepherd Scott West at Bonneville Dam

Sea Shepherd Scott West

Scott West – Photo credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

“. . . for twenty-one years, as a federal agent I’d see a problem, I’d walk into the middle of it and stop it. Not being able to do that in Taiji or do it here at the Dam is extremely difficult.”

I spoke with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society‘s Scott West while he was on location at Bonneville Dam. There is something that we can all do to aid him in this campaign. See for yourself!

Holise: You were in law enforcement. What did you do and how has it contributed to the work that you now do in Sea Shepherd?

Scott: I started law enforcement in the summer of 1987. I was hired as a criminal investigator with U.S. Customs Service and I was sent down to South Carolina where I was involved with the interdiction of drugs being imported into the United States. Then I started doing some work in the control of export technologies. I also, at the same time, was in the Naval Reserve as an intelligence officer and so the export control and my intelligence work kind of duct-taped together.

After a couple of years I decided that law enforcement wasn’t really my thing. It was something I had done out of grad  school, and I needed a job. Eventually I realized I wanted to do environmental work and so I decided to go to law school. Well, a friend of mine said that the E.P.A. had criminal investigators so I gave EPA a call and, lo and behold, I got hired in late 1989 as a special agent criminal investigator with the EPA and moved to San Francisco and started working. I said, “I’ll give it six months for an experiment. For what that’s worth, if it doesn’t work out I’ll go to law school.”

At the end of 2008 — that was nineteen years later — I retired from the EPA Criminal Investigations and I was a Special Agent In Charge when I retired. Special Agent In Charge is a person who runs a geographically centered office and supervises the investigators, scientists, attorneys, admin people and is the one who makes the decision about which cases will get investigated and referred for prosecution. So, my background is environmental law enforcement and Naval Intelligence and those two things are what I bring to the table for Sea Shepherd.

I first became aware of Sea Shepherd back about ’88 and, sometime during 1990, I had the opportunity to meet Paul Watson. Sea Shepherd was headquartered down in the L.A. area at the time and I was in San Francisco. California was in my area and I thought Paul might be a good source of information about environmental violations in U.S. territory. So I called him up, told him who I was and that I wanted to talk with him and he said, “Come on down.” He thought that what I did for a living was pretty interesting and so we started talking and as the years unfolded we developed a friendship.

In 2008, he called me up and reminded me that I could retire; although, I had not been planning on it. And he said, “Come on, retire! Let’s put your skills to work for Sea Shepherd.” So, I did and that’s how my background fits into what I’m doing now. I run Sea Shepherd’s Intelligence and Investigations branch. I’ve been leading the ongoing campaign in Taiji, Japan, I did the undercover part at the Faroe’s campaign last year, I’ve done some investigations around the world and now I’m down at the sea lion defense campaign. I bring my law enforcement to bear because I know how the law works,  and I’m able to talk to law enforcement officers here, in Japan and anywhere I go. That’s how it all comes together.

Holise: Wow! That’s incredible. Let me ask you, how do you deal with the stress of witnessing the torture and murder of sentient cetaceans over and over again?

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