Paul 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.
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. 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!