Interpol issues wanted notice for ‘Whale Wars’ star
Paul Watson, seen here speaking to reporters in Berlin in May, skipped bail last month.
August 9th, 2012
12:51 PM ET

Interpol issues wanted notice for ‘Whale Wars’ star

Interpol has issued an international wanted notice for conservationist and “Whale Wars” TV star Paul Watson, days after he skipped bail in Germany as Costa Rica tried to have him extradited.

Watson was arrested at Germany’s Frankfurt airport on May 13 on an arrest warrant issued by Costa Rica, which accuses him of endangering a fishing vessel off the coast of Guatemala in 2002.

He posted roughly $302,000 bail and was ordered to remain in Germany as it considered Costa Rica’s extradition request, but he stopped reporting to authorities on July 22, a German court said. Watson left Germany and forfeited his bail, according to his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which isn’t revealing his location.

“Following confirmation from German authorities that Paul Watson had failed to satisfy the bail conditions established by the German courts and had fled the country, Costa Rican authorities renewed their request” for Interpol to issue an international wanted notice for Watson, which Interpol did Tuesday, Interpol said.

Costa Rican authorities allege that Watson - whose attempts to disrupt Japanese whalers at sea gained him fame on Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars” TV show - and his crew aboard Sea Shepherd’s Ocean Warrior ship endangered a Costa Rican fishing vessel during a confrontation off Guatemala’s coast.

The U.S.-based Sea Shepherd denies the allegations, arguing that the charges have less to do with law than with Watson’s anti-conservationist enemies.

In the 2002 incident, according to Sea Shepherd ship operations officer Peter Hammarstedt, the Ocean Warrior found a Costa Rican crew killing sharks for their fins in Guatemalan waters. The Ocean Warrior 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, but “there were no injuries and no physical damage to any ship,” Hammarstedt said in May.

The Ocean Warrior did stop 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 sharks back into the sea, where they die. The fins are used for expensive soup, mostly in China.

The current charge, according to Interpol, is “causing a danger of drowning or of an air disaster.”

Sea Shepherd says that “anyone who’s viewed the documentary can clearly see the charges are bogus.”

“The water cannon Captain Watson allegedly used to stop the illegal shark finners never reached the wheelhouse, thereby having no possibility of interfering with their safe navigation, nor were there any aircraft overhead at the time so as to potentially cause an ‘air disaster,’” Sea Shepherd said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Interpol’s wanted notices, called red notices, are sent to police agencies across the world, but they are not arrest warrants.

“Each of Interpol’s 190 member countries must apply their national laws and standards in determining whether it may detain or arrest the wanted person,” Interpol says.

May 2012: Bail set for ‘Whale Wars’ star in extradition fight

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Filed under: Costa Rica • Courts • Crime • Environment • Germany • Justice • Nature
soundoff (451 Responses)

    There's a difference with certain hunting... Certain game animals are actually protected by "regulated" hunting that preserves the population at- at least "near" healthy levels. This needs to be done because of territories lost by animals due to over human expansion. UIn hunted certain species would spill over into our communities (which sometimes happens anyhow) and spreead disease.. Grow sick and without natural predators they are not kept in check.. The species of deer for example would actually go EXTINCT eventually. If it were not for regulated hunting. However, Sharks and Whales are different. We may share their world but are causing extinction by hunting them to death when we don't even live in the sea. It's their domain. There will probably always be slaughter houses and YES many of them are unfair to animals. But at least they are domestic bred for it. Regulated hunting of only certain wild animals IS better. But that bwhole situation is different than the hunting of animals that should be protected like sharks and whales. We are effecting the ecosystems in the ocean in many ways. Just as we did on land. However, we may find the consequences in the future to be much worse with the abuse of the environment that is going unchecked. Especially in Oceans.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    Fishermen are going to start arming their vessels to prevent attacks by this guy and his terror organization, and I hope they don't shoot to disable.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lee-Anne

    Well, if the charges are obviously false, then why doesn't he go to court and challenge them? Spraying a water cannon on another fishing vessel could easily cause a drowning. What if you knocked someone overboard? He will argue that he had more control than that, but what if a mistake was made? Sorry, now he is criminal in Germany as well for breaking bond.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sharpy

      Lee-Anne you believe the courts are 100% about justice and always do what is right? Neither do I so what are you talking about? Police use water cannons and have never been charged for attempted drownings heck water boarding is not illegal and people have drown>

      August 11, 2012 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. Olaf Big

    He is not perfect, but he is doing a good thing. You can't attract anybody's attention by showing up with a sign "stop shark finning" in your local park. You have to get out there and show what the finners are doing, and try to stop them. As for endangerment charges, they are overblown. Sadly, Justice is rarely blind when there is big money on one side of the scale and nothing but imperfect idealism on the other.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • andreslobo

      Yet he was breaking the law pure and simple. If he had studied up on maritime law he would have known he was breaking the law. While maritime law is certainly not perfect it does do wonders for international trade and to have someone with an agenda decide that he is above the law, well the piper must be paid.

      And what a chicken sh t he is. If this cause was so important to him, he'd face his accusers and have his day in court. Instead he pis sed away over $300k of someone's money by running away from the law. Civil disobedience is a moral stand but only if the person is willing to do the time. Again this guy is a chicken sh t.

      August 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Truth

      Creating a situation that runs the risk of collision IS endangering a vessel. He sprayed the ship with water canons which is by every letter of the law assualt, injuries or damage is irrevelant. He also forced the vessel to stop which is against the Navigation Rules and endangering both vessels. He and his followers will get people killed doing what they do.

      If the world's governments will not stop his dangerous ways then fishing vessles should arm themselves and defend themselves from him. Remember the fishing vessels are fishing LEGALLY, what he is doing is unlawful and the fishing vessels under international law are allowed to defend themselves. They don't only due to the PR fallout, not because of laws stopping them.

      August 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric S.

      This guy is a criminal and I hope he gets life in prison.. Punk..

      August 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • lafontaine

      I agree with that. I am no OWS type (in fact otherwise conservative), however the fight he is making is so fundemental and necessary I am glad someone is doing it, even if it is someone like watson who to me is a D bag.

      August 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      Are you sure of what you wrote, don't you believe that if the video shows their innicence they would have presented to judicial authorities somewhere in the world? Why have they not release to the press the uncut, uneditted version of the video?? Is it because it does not show the fisherman doing other thing that fishing sharks.... in Costa Rica shark meat has an extensive market and is sold in many places... Again, if they have proof that the costarricans were acting illegall show it, but nevertheless, that did not gave the bully Watson a right to use their ship to attack the fishermen's boat...

      August 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sharpy

      @andreslobo what are you talking about? What laws were broken? Re-read the story acting on the governments request????

      August 11, 2012 at 3:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. TrueGrissel

    I saw the show when that speed boat was cut in half, too bad all didn't go down with it.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chaos

      I hope you drown too.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • FifthApe

      You are a POS.

      August 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JibJab

    This incident happened over 10 years ago!! Doesn't Costa Rica have any type of statute of limitations? Let it go already!

    August 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. philimbesi

    Good lock the Pirate up.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ed. cuber

    takes one to know one.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. no nothing

    Shark fin soup. This is why I hate the human race, killing for some stupid delicacy.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Thermion7

    he keeps it in his refrigerator....

    August 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mohey

    So the Interpol have no more murderers, killers, pedophiles and rapists .. so they run after a guy with a water cannon ... what a jerks

    August 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robert

    If any person has gone to Costa Rica they would quickly realize that shark hunting is condemned by the population and government. It is however entirely another matter that the country does not have the resources to police this. In addition, regardless to whether Paul Watson is a pirate or savior, there is an existing legal process that the country is obliged to uphold as any country would. I sincerely hope that Paul Watson is not jailed as I doubt that the conditions of a Costa Rican prison are not flattering, however I also hope that this episode can help curb the almost maniacal form that some activists engage in their activities.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Richard

    He's a frickin' terrorist, plain and simple.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • buttpirate

      only intelligent people see him as a terrorist. well done

      August 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • quagmire

      Good call there Dick.....

      August 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Major Tom

      You're a friggin' M0R0N. Plain and simple.

      August 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sharpy

      Richard terrorist kill people if he's a terrorist you must be a pedophile!

      August 11, 2012 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. buttpirate

    Hope he gets arrested and waterboarded. he's a terrorist and needs to be treated like one

    August 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mickey D

    To hell with the useless interpol.

    August 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
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