Paul Gouin is a French businessman born in Morocco presently living in Spain. His interest in cetaceans started in 1976 when he read “The dolphin, cousin to man” by Robert Stenuit. The book explained how the brains of the bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops) and of many of the 88 species of cetaceans were equivalent and sometimes superior in complexity to the human brain. The book convinced Paul that cetaceans were persons and that it was morally wrong to harm them. They are non-human persons and killing them is murder. The scientific evidence for his position has increased since.
At the same time, Paul became aware of the rapid disappearance of the large cetaceans hunted at that time by the pelagic fleets of Japan and the Soviet Union.
During that meeting, he convinced the then secretary of the IWC Ray Gamble to open the archives of the Scientific Committee of the IWC to the public.
At the next meeting of the IWC in Australia in 1977, he presented to the Scientific Committee of the IWC a paper explaining why the population estimates at that time based on catches-per-unit-of-effort were underestimating the decline of the whale’s populations, as these estimates did not take in consideration the increased efficiency of the equipment. He attended the Plenary Meeting of the IWC as Commissioner for Panama where he delivered an opening statement about the People of the Ocean, waving around a life-sized plaster cast of a cachalot (sperm whale) brain. Cachalots ( sperm whales) have the largest brains on Earth, four times the size of human brains.
After the meeting, which saw the catch quotas of cachalots cut down 80%, Paul Gouin started with some Australian friends the Whale and Dolphin Coalition and invited Greenpeace to join them in protesting the killing of cachalots by the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company is Western Australia. The company was so sure that the single inflatable of the Coalition could not stop the three harpoon boats that they invited all the television media aboard. As a result, every Australian watching the news the next day was treated with a video of cachalots thrashing around and agonizing in a pool of blood. It was during that protest that Paul’s friends nicknamed him the Phantom.
That, and of course the work of many other people and organizations such as Project Jonah, led the Australian government to establish a public inquiry into whaling. The result was the Frost Report, saying that not only Australia should stop whaling, but it should also help stop whaling around the world, which the successive government of Australia has been doing since. The book “The Last Whale” by Chris Pash published in 2008 has chronicled these events.
Another success of which Paul Gouin is proud is when at the 1980 meeting of the IWC, being Commissioner for Panama, he requested that a proposed vote for a general moratorium, which was heading for defeat, be split into two votes, one for coastal whaling, and one for pelagic (high seas) whaling. The result was the 1980 pelagic whaling moratorium (with the exception of minke whales) still in effect but largely forgotten because of the 1982 “moratorium” which included also the minke whales and coastal whaling.
Living at that time in the Bahamas, Paul Gouin organized a campaign which convinced four Caribbean countries to join the IWC in time to vote for the 1982 “moratorium” (technically a “zero quota” vote) which has been in force since. Soon after, he was terminated as Commissioner for Panama under heavy pressure from Japan.
Believing the fight against commercial whaling was essentially won, Paul suspended his activities until the Japanese government restarted pelagic whaling in the Antarctic under the guise of “scientific permits”. True scientific permits are allowed by the IWC convention.
Paul Gouin proposed the idea of a whales sanctuary in the Antarctic to the non-governmental organizations at the 1990 IWC meeting, but everybody thought it was an impossible goal as the last large population of minke whales was located there.
Nevertheless, Paul Gouin persisted, and through the French group, Robins des Bois presented the proposal to the French Minister of the Environment who agreed to present the idea at the 1992 IWC meeting.
Two years later, after a lot of work by many people, the “impossible” Antarctic Sanctuary was adopted by 23 votes against one (Japan) at the 1994 IWC meeting in Puerto Vallarta.
Nevertheless, Japan continued to issue phony “scientific” permits to hunt inside the Antarctic Sanctuary. Australia sued Japan in front of the International Court of Justice and won. Japan ignored the judgment.
In September 2018, Japan announced that it was quitting the IWC, stopping “scientific” whaling in the Antarctic, and re-starting commercial whaling in its own EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone).
Many people consider any whaling in breach of IWC decisions to be pirate whaling. Even if Japan is no longer a member of the IWC, it is a signatory of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the SEA, in which Article 65 obligates all members to work through the IWC as the appropriate international organization to manage cetaceans.
The Phantom has come up with some out-of-the-box ideas to stop the only government sanctioned pirate whaling. See the section “Anti Whaling Society Ideas and Goals”.He welcomes the help of any kind, especially from people who know ministers of the environment anywhere in the world.