Since the early 1970s, Donald White has been a dedicated conservationist. He received a B.S. degree in Geophysics in 1972 from Indiana University, and accepted work as an oil exploration geophysicist in Texas. Influenced by his deep feelings on conservation, White moved to Hawaii in 1975; where he taught high school physics to pay the bills while establishing himself as a leader in early marine conservation efforts.
White incorporated Save the Whales - Hawaii (STWH) in the summer of 1976; this corporation would later be re-named Earthtrust. Using this organization as the vehicle for growing public support to end whaling, he created one of the world's first successful Save the Whales expeditions, simultaneously helping create the Greenpeace whale movement in the United States. The Earthtrust ship Ohana Kai and its volunteer crew successfully confronted, boarded, and documented Soviet whalers north of Hawaii in 1977 in a joint Earthtrust/ Greenpeace expedition. This expedition resulted in international television coverage by ABC, and was a major step in popularizing the cause of whale conservation, setting the stage for a decade of action.
As co-founder and Executive Director of Greenpeace Hawaii (1978-1987), White was behind most of that organization's early programs to save wildlife. As a founder and senior board member of Greenpeace USA (1980-1985), White brought the issue of dolphins into Greenpeace, and directed all of Greenpeace's dolphin campaigns worldwide for 2 years. These campaigns included international research, undercover exposes, and corporate involvements, as well as direct confrontations covered by the media. Highlights included a promotional tour of Central America by the Rainbow Warrior to promote the re-establishment of a working international convention for tuna and dolphin conservation; work against the directed kills of dolphins in Japan and Europe, and a seaborne mission to the Bering Sea to confront Japan's wasteful pelagic gillnet fisheries.
White also was instrumental in creating, planning and working to implement two of Greenpeace's landmark whale-saving campaigns, considered to be the most successful anti-whaling campaigns of '82 and '83, respectively: the occupation of a Peruvian whaling station by dolphin-campaign crewmembers (which succeeded in turning that country's pro-whaling position around) and the '83 invasion of a Siberian whaling station by the ship Rainbow Warrior, to draw attention to an illegal kill of California grey whales.
The increasing politicization of Greenpeace International, its increasingly-strained accountability to its supporters, and its accelerating drift away from wildlife issues led White to sever ties with the organization in 1985 to devote full time to Earthtrust. White felt this new organizational name symbolized the increased scope of the organization's projects and its accountability to supporters. Under his direction, it also soon came to stand for efficiency, effectiveness, and fresh approaches to tough problems.
As the mind behind the 1983 Greenpeace Driftnet expedition in the Bering Sea, and the Earthtrust 1988 Expedition from Hawaii, White is considered to be the conservationist who started the international conservation campaign to restrict and ban driftnets. Earthtrust's video production Stripmining the Seas , co-written and produced by White, has been acknowledged internationally - even by the driftnetting nations themselves - as the international focus which changed the nature of the issue forever. Indeed, the now-common phrases walls of death and stripmining the seas originally coined by White are still international buzzwords for the issue.
After years of research into fisheries and marketing, White developed what is perhaps the most comprehensive international strategy to end the killing of dolphins by the tuna industry. Called the Flipper Seal of Approval, this positive market campaign has secured international trademark rights to the Flipper name and licenses the Flipper Seal to firms adhering to a new global dolphin-saving standard. White is President of the Flipper Foundation, a California corporation established in 1992 to create a global mechanism for oversight of the international tuna industry and the funding of conservation activities by the Flipper Seal of Approval program.
Drawing from his background knowledge of dolphins, computers, and physics, White created Earthtrust's Project Delphis dolphin conservation and cognition research program in 1985. Conducted in cooperation with Sea Life Park in Honolulu, Hawaii, this cutting-edge project has brought together Ph.D's in marine mammal science, nationally known computer technologists and designers, and conservationists in a project which may alter the way humans and dolphins interact in the future. The principle focus of Project Delphis is dolphin/human interaction through video and computer technology. White serves as Project Director, involved in the creation of new hardware and software for the project. He believes that a change in the way humans think of dolphins is necessary for any long-term solutions to be possible, and that Project Delphis can accomplish this change.
Don White's goals have been ambitious: to develop Earthtrust from a barely-funded group of volunteers into a conservation organization working globally at the forefront of the most difficult environmental issues. His vision of a global Earthtrust included high-tech and low-overhead operations, linking a worldwide network of Earthtrust field representatives and supporters by fax and electronic mail. This has in large measure been achieved: Earthtrust is today recognized as the premier Pacific organization investigating infractions of the IWC whaling ban, the leader in the conservation campaign to ban driftnet fishing and police the United Nations Driftnet moratorium, a respected pioneer in dolphin cognition research, the most influential Western conservation organization in Taiwan (saving dolphins and tracking the trade in endangered species), a strong international participant in forums from CITES to the United Nations, and a credible force for positive change and environmental education in many parts of the world.
White sees Earthtrust as a tool for preservation of the earth's species and habitat, for himself and for people who share a commitment to efficient real-world action. He believes that individuals CAN make a difference.
Bonus! Here's a link to the unfinished, unauthorized bio site for DJ White done by volunteers in 2000. It contains a few typos, but provides more details on his career and projects.
E-mail directly to Don White