Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson jumps bail
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2012:
TOKYO--The international police agency Interpol on September 16, 2012 at Japan’s request asked for the cooperation of member nations in arresting Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson. The Interpol “red” notice superseded an earlier “blue” notice which only sought information about Watson’s whereabouts.
Not seen in public since July 22, 2012, Watson has acknowledged to media that he is at sea in international waters, but has not identified which sea or which vessel he is aboard. Watson was arrested in Frankfurt in May 2012 on a 10-year-old Costa Rican warrant as he tried to board a flight to attend the Cannes film festival in France. The warrant was issued after the Sea Shepherds, acting initially at request of Guatemala, intercepted a Costa Rican vessel that was allegedly cutting the fins from live sharks. Video of the incident appeared in the 2007 Rob Stewart documentary Sharkwater. As the confrontation heated up, the Guatemalan government sent a gunboat to release the Costa Rican vessel, while Costa Rica charged Watson with attempted murder. Watson has alleged that the charges began as an extortion attempt, and that the warrant was revived through the influence of Japan.
Watson jumped bail in Germany while awaiting a hearing on an extradition request filed by Costa Rica, forfeiting $295,000 rather than take the risk that Costa Rica might win the extradition attempt, then turn him over to Japan.
Japan has tried many previous covert strategies to try to stop Watson and the Sea Shepherds. U.S. State Department messages published in January 2011 by WikiLeaks and the Spanish newspaper El Pais disclosed that U.S. diplomats in negotiation with Japanese officials had from November 2009 through January 2010 entertained the possibility of asking the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the Sea Shepherds’ nonprofit status as a bargaining ploy.
Wherever Watson was, he continued to blog about the activities of the rest of the Sea Shepherds, who were visibly active in more locations than ever, with teams documenting dolphin captures and killing at Taiji, Japan, and bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean, as well as patrolling against maritime poaching off the Galapagos, continuing a 12-year-old partnership with the Galapagos National Park Service.
“Our African team under Laurens De Groot has just completed a very successful campaign to protect fur seals in Namibia and our South Pacific shark campaign under the direction of Julie Andersen has just completed an awesomely successful campaign in Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati,” Watson wrote on September 10, 2012. “Sea Shepherd Australia director Jeff Hansen along with Operation Kimberly Miinimbi campaign leader Bob Brown had an excellent Southern Hemisphere winter voyage to Northwestern Australia, where they not only brought international attention to the threats against the nursing grounds of the humpback whale from the gas industry, but actually helped to get Chevron to withdraw from the project.”
Watson also described preparations underway to ready the Sea Shepherd vessels Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, and Brigitte Bardot for another winter of confrontations with the Japanese whaling fleet off Antarctica, and pledged that while he had missed his brother Stephen’s funeral (see obituary, page 18), he would fulfill Stephen’s request that his ashes be scattered in Antarctic waters.
Season five of the Animal Planet series Whale Wars, following the Sea Shepherds in confrontation with Japanese whalers off Antarctica, began airing on June 1, 2012.