'Whale Wars' captain freed on bail from German jail
Activists put up a poster calling for a German court to free Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson.
May 21st, 2012
11:02 AM ET

'Whale Wars' captain freed on bail from German jail

Controversial Sea Shepherd conservationist and "Whale Wars" star Paul Watson was released from a German jail on Monday after posting 250,000 euros ($318,000) bail in an extradition case from Costa Rica.

Watson, whose attempts to disrupt Japanese whalers at sea gained fame through Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars” TV show, was detained last weekend at the Frankfurt airport after Costa Rica issued an international request for his arrest.

Costa Rican authorities allege that Watson’s crew aboard Sea Shepherd’s Ocean Warrior ship endangered a Costa Rican fishing vessel during a confrontation off Guatemala’s coast in 2002, according to the Frankfurt court.

The court ruled Friday that Germany will consider the request and that Costa Rica will have 90 days to make its case. The German Ministry of Justice then will decide whether to extradite Watson.

Speaking outside the prison Monday, Watson defended what happened in the Costa Rica case.

"I had to take action with my crew a decade ago to protect hundreds of sharks, and of course, those shark poachers have very powerful allies in government and other places," he said.

The U.S.-based Sea Shepherd has denied wrongdoing in the Costa Rica case and urged supporters through its website and social media to write to German officials, arguing that the charges have less to do with law than with Watson’s anti-conservationist enemies and that it doubts he would get a fair trial.

"It's very strange that this so-called extradition thing was dismissed by Interpol in every country except Germany," Watson said Monday.

“As Sea Shepherd becomes increasingly more effective at protecting marine wildlife globally, the enemies of the oceans are using all of their resources to stop us,” the group said in a statement. The extradition request "we believe stems from Sea Shepherd victories in curbing shark finning on the high seas.”

In the 2002 incident, Sea Shepherd ship operations officer Peter Hammarstedt said, the Ocean Warrior found the Costa Rican crew killing sharks for their fins in Guatemalan waters. It initially had permission from Guatemalan authorities to stop it and tow the vessel into port, he said.

The Ocean Warrior used water cannons on the fishing vessel in an effort to stop it, but “there were no injuries and no physical damage to any ship,” Hammarstedt said.

The Ocean Warrior succeeded in stopping the ship, but Guatemalan authorities eventually asked Watson to release it, Hammarstedt said.

The confrontation is detailed in part of a 2007 documentary, “Sharkwater,” Hammarstedt said.

Shark finning is the practice of cutting the fins off sharks and throwing the shark itself back into the sea, where they die. The fins are used for expensive soup, mostly in China.

On Monday, Watson said he hoped he could use attention the case is generating to bring a new focus on preserving life in the world's oceans.

"We have all the laws and regulations we need to protect our oceans, but we don't have governments with the guts to enforce those regulations," he said.

Post by: ,
Filed under: Costa Rica • Crime • Germany • Nature • Showbiz • TV
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Ferocious Isles

    Paul Watson is an Eco Terrorist and the Sea Shepherd Organization is the poster child for Eco Terrorism. The sooner we declare them what they are the better. Time to cut off all the Hollywood money.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • puzzled

      Soo..you like the idea of cutting the fins from sharks and dropping them back in the water, strictly for human profit?Hmm.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • GetReal

      Right cause wrong tactics. He's just as guilty of as the people killing animals. He's a terrorist along with his crew of nitwits.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob B

    The last sentence of the story says it all. Paul Watson and the Sea Shepard group do what our governments should be doing. I watch the show everytime it's on and support the group 100%.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John Sellers

    Paul is a self ordained unprofessional vigilante. He does things to others and expects no consequences.
    It would be great if Costa Rica could impound all his vessels and lock him up for a few years.
    I do have to admit that he his an amazing fundraiser and a master of theatrics.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. T

    Hey SlackMeyer – I guess it's lucky for you that you were born a "more important" human than an animal in the sea, eh? Yes, very important work for humans to slice the fin off of a live, sentient being who will suffer and die... all so we superior beings can eat some soup. Very important indeed.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • SlackMeyer

      DANG lucky to be born a human and way more important than any animal on the face of the earth. Have you seen this guy on TV saying that to save the whales, "you have to risk your own life"? No thanks. I'd rather risk my life saving another human being. The whales and sharks be damned.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • hang3xc

      I think only using it's fin is a terrible waste, but millions of animals are brutally "murdered" every day just for McDonalds, let alone the millions of others that go to market. You a vegetarian? You feel bad for everything or just poor sharks? Cows & other animals are basically tortured their entire lives, which thanks to genetic engineering is NOT very long anymore. Chickens live in darkness, stuffed into hangar type bldgs by the thousands in air so toxic we need respirators to go into.They have been genetically engineered to have HUGE breast because that is what people want, but they don't get a TV show. No animals are killed in a loving sort of way, if there IS one. It's ALL about MONEY.

      May 21, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ocean

    feroucious isles is an idiot. these morons should be stopped from killing these sharks for their fins and leaving them to die in the ocean. To hell with those sea life murders.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    save our oceans, or lose our species
    tough choice

    May 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tico-tico

    Here in Costa Rica the matter has been very controversial: How can a (tiny) country that calls itself one of the largest protectors of wildlife be prosecuting a protector of same? Watch the video. The water cannon they used on the Costa Rican (all wood, hand made) vessel nearly punches a hole in it. While I do not defend what the CR vessel was doing, that is deplorable, nearly destroying them is not the answer.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      re: how far are they willing to go? "allow crews to drown?" He's been at it since 1977, hasn't hurt anyone yet.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Denise

    Why do some view the SS as the villain here????!! Hello!!! What about those doing truly illegal activities by killing the sharks and whales. If the laws were being followed, the SS wouldn't be out there!

    P.S. China sucks.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tico-tico

      While you are correct, in part. Keep in mind that the SS could have easily (and nearly did) sunk the Costa Rica ship and killed the crew. Again, what they did and do is WRONG, no question. However the SS and others must measure how are they willing to go. Sink ships? Allow crews to drown?

      May 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob B

      I agree, but not all the people in China suck.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Crizzle

    I think the biggest crook here is Animal Planet.
    Why sell a show as "WHALE WARS!!!!" when all they show is close ups of unshaven hippies staring off into space talking about doing something? All they end up doing is throwing dirty Birkenstocks at the whaling ships.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. NorthVanCan

    GIVE EM HELL PAUL. and thanks on behalf of those who care!

    May 21, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NorthVanCan

    When flying in a plane or looking at photos from space, it must take an incredible amount of stupidity not to see whats happing to this planet. The real questions is will we change course in time to save our selfs . So far humans have only proven then selves to be pathetic.Paul and a handful of others are humanities last hope.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CaptainKirk

    Captain Watson is engaging in a very important effort to preserve whale species for when the alien probe comes in the 23rd century. Support his cause so we may live in peace.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chris adams

    God Bless Capt Watson !!!

    May 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nathan

    Paul Watson is a fat, narcissistic jerk as far as I can tell, but his cause is just. You can call him an eco-terrorist, but until he kills or even significantly injures another human being, I will be on his side, as he is fighting injustice.

    If governments fail to protect the environment from those who seek to pillage it, I will support vigilante's who do, provided that they are not actually killing or harming other human beings.

    A little property damage to save tens of thousands of sentient animals from unnecessary violence? An easy decision in my book.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 327th

    They should sink the Sea Shepherd and create an artificial reef for fish and other sea life forms.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7