Paul Watson: love him or hate him?

By February 12, 2013 February 21st, 2017 Ocean Leaders You Know

Sea Shepherd Society Anti-WhalingPaul Watson is one of those people that you either love or totally hate. This Canadian born activist (Toronto, 1950) worked with Greenpeace, but he didn’t fit in their nonviolence ambiance, so he was expelled in 1977. That year, he founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society under the name Earth Force Society. This is one of the most popular environmental organizations, due to their aggressive and direct attitude against anyone who are causing damage to our oceans. They have four ships and several smaller vessels, and their actions can go from throwing objects against other ships to directly boarding them. Sometimes, they intercept whaling vessels, which means that they crash their own vessels against them. Because of this behavior, they are often called eco-terrorists.

 Paul Watson Sea Shepherd Society

Let’s get back to Paul Watson, shall we. This man has a life that looks like a movie. One of the most important actions of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is against whaling, so they have a lot of enemies among the authorities of the countries with benefits in this industry, like U.S.A, Japan, Norway,… Whaling is illegal all over the world, but it is legal if it’s for “scientific purposes“. So, you know, they can sell the whales after their supposed scientific experiments. To confront whaling vessels, they disabled some of them at harbor, or throw bottles with butyric acid to their decks, for example. They were confronting illegal actions by destroying millions in marine equipment, by doing more illegal actions.Sea Shepherd Rams boat Owning to those actions, Paul Watson has been arrested and convicted more than once, for assaulting a police officer in Canada, for attempting to sink a whaling vessel in Norway… but the worst came recently.

Japan has always had Paul on their bullseye because of his damage not only to their vessels but to their industry (for example, in 2006 Watson pursued a Japanese whaling fleet over 4,000 miles along the Antarctic coastline, so in 2010 Japan obtained an arrest warrant against him, and the Interpol listed him as wanted.

Last May he was finally arrested in Germany after arriving in Frankfurt for a layover. But he wasn’t arrested because of Japan. He was arrested because he was also being pursued by the government of Costa Rica. They blamed him for an altercation in 2002 during the filming of the documentary “Sharkwater” involving a vessel, which was illegally shark finning in Guatemala. The crew in the vessel told the authorities that the members of the Sea Shepherd tried to kill them. At first, Watson’s charges were dismissed because of their films, but shortly afterwards, another prosecutor rescued the investigation and charged Watson with attempted murder. So Paul was arrested by the German authorities and being held for extradition to Costa Rica on attempted murder charges. He was released on bail for $250,000, but he had to report to police in Frankfurt everyday. And so he did…Until July 2012.

In June, Costa Rica officially asked for his extradition from Germany, so he ran away. It needs to be said that Watson’s charges will expire in June 2013, so they are in a hurry to catch him. The reason of his escape? Sea Shepherd thinks that once in Costa Rica, it would be easier for the Japanese government to catch him and judge him in Japan. Later, it was published that Japan submitted an extradition request to Germany three days before Watson’s escape, so it made it clear that his enemy were the Japanese authorities.


Watson it’s still missing, although he is still speaking through the press and the social media via other Sea Shepherd members. He has over him two “red notices” from the Interpol, as a request of Costa Rica and Japan (this one since last September). This means that every country member of the Interpol is requested to look for him and arrest him if possible. This January, a fleet of Sea Shepherds ships visited New Zealand on their way to the Southern Ocean, and among them was the Steve Irwin, which Paul Watson captains, but he wasn’t on board. It is said that he switched to another boat (the Brigitte Bardot) in international waters, before they arrived to port. But he wasn’t listed as a crew member on any boat. Later, Watson himself said that he was shocked about the New Zealand’s cooperation with Japan.

Do you think Paul Watson and the Sea Sheppard Conservation Society are doing the right thing to protect the Ocean? Speak your mind!

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Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • Why is the focus on Paul Watson and why does he get all the bad press? News media, government officials, and the world should be focused on the real criminals, the Japanese whalers, shark poachers, and the other real criminals raping our oceans for a buck.

  • Andrew Lewin says:

    You make a terrific point Connie! I would think that the Japanese government would want to go after Paul Watson because he is the leader, and the inspiration, of the organization that is costing them millions of dollars in their “whale research” program. The Costa Rican government is after him because a outstanding “attempted murder” charges that we all saw as suspicious based on the Sharkwater documentary.

    It’s a matter of bringing down a leader that inspires people to protect the ocean…or as these governments see it: bring down a leader (which will bring down the organization) that is costing them millions of dollars.

    I may not agree with everything Paul Watson and the Sea Sheppard Conservation Society has done, but I like the fact that they do it without being intimidated by any governments or organized crime (organized crime is said to be involved in the shark finning industry, according to the Sharkwater documentary).

    Note: I don’t agree with what the government of Japan is doing with whaling.

  • Andrew, your point is well taken. “It’s a matter of bringing down a leader that inspires people to protect the ocean…or as these governments see it: bring down a leader (which will bring down the organization) that is costing them millions of dollars.”

  • tye block says:

    Paul Watson is a HERO!!!!!!

  • Chris Baker says:

    As a diver, I see our oceans and marine life disappearing. I do what I can to educate myself and others of the ongoing and growing problems. I think Paul Watson has brought to light his plight (the worlds plight) and I applaud him for it. He has inspired me to do more! Once I am done with my tours as a DoD Contractor in the War Zones, I hope to volunteer as a crew member on one of his ships so I may learn more and do more for the oceans.

  • Dr. Franck Porcher says:

    To the question “Do you think Paul Watson and the Sea Sheppard Conservation Society are doing the right thing to protect the Ocean?”, I answer YES, YES a thousand times, totally YES.

    Paul Watson and his organization are doing courageous things to go after the real criminals that are raping our oceans, destroying and pillaging for a buck worldwide eco-resources that belong to all while never feeling accountable for their crimes.

    Captain Watson is telling them and showing the world the contrary.

    I have supported Sea Shepherd organization for years and will continue to aplaud Paul Watson for his courage, hoping that he will escape unfair and biased Interpol charges.

    Kudo and chapeau bas for Captain Watson and his organization.

    Dr. Franck Porcher, Ph.D.

  • Tony Parkinson says:

    Im sure Paul couldnt care less if you love him or hate him, as long as you listen to his message. Personaly I think the guy is great, because he lives for his beliefs, and does not comprimise one bit, inspirational!

  • Tina Anderson says:

    I’m sorry to hear that the pursuit of Paul Watson is unrelenting. He is one of the few who are standing up for what they believe in, for what is right. Although I do not advocate illegal action on his part, I admire his tenacity to enforce national and international laws as a civilian. Not too long ago there was another band of renegades that stood up for what they believed in, posting as ante their lives and fortunes; because of them we have the United States of America today. But what has happened to that American spirit? I know that the environmental issues we face are global concerns, but as a leader in the global world, we Americans need to get out heads out of the sand and, like Paul, stop thinking so much about our own comforts, conveniences, and profits, and start thinking about what’s best for all of creation.

  • Nicole says:

    Anyone who stands up for a worthy cause, bold and unafraid to stand up for vulnerable creatures (i.e. marine animals) is likely to face adversity and “crucifixion” from many, because many (i.e. Japan) are afraid of change, and unconscious of the impact they have on the environment. By standing up to countries such as Japan and making an impact (real time) by destroying ships before they get to kill animals, Paul Watson is a hero. Because of his unconventional measures, people are afraid. When people are afraid they attack. While some may argue its better to “wait” for international courts and “higher” level to make rules, many marine creatures would probably be killed in the process – we need to speed up the process. Many organizations are ineffective, and bureaucratic, and it may take years to implement a law (albeit ineffective) to prevent animals from being killed. Paul Watson has stepped up the game and is trying to do so *directly*. Yes one can argue he may not be 100% effective from saving marine creatures, but at least he’s doing something, gaining media attention, raising awareness and standing up for the cause (albeit in a radical stance). The world needs more fearless people like Paul Watson.

  • Steve says:

    He has been instrumental in protecting cetaceans, yes, but he is very abusive to people, especially the women who works on his boats. Anyone who has worked on SS knows that he is abusive towards women, but of course he gets a pass because he is the anti-whaling hero. He should not get a pass!!!!

  • Andrew Lewin says:

    This is interesting. I never heard this before. I hope it is not true.

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