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Whale Wars' Paul Watson jailed in Germany for 2002 incident in Costa Rica

Whales and imperiled marine animals benefit from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's actions
Whales and imperiled marine animals benefit from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's actions
Patricia Sullivan

Frankfurt, Germany

Captain Paul Watson, icon of Animal Planet’s resoundingly popular Whale Wars series remains in a German jail today while Germany is on holiday. He awaits a German judge’s decision that could allow his extradition to Costa Rica for an alleged incident with a Costa Rican fishing vessel that occurred in 2002.

Speaking from Frankfurt where Watson was arrested at 1400 Monday, Peter Hamerstedt, Ship Operations Officer for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS):.

This extradition is in regards to an incident in 2002 when Captain Paul Watson was asked by Guatemalan authorities to arrest a Costa Rican long-liner that was fishing illegally within Guatemalan waters; this vessel had set hooks illegally, they were fishing for sharks against the law. In the course of this confrontation…Costa Rica decided to issue an arrest warrant for Captain Paul Watson. This arrest warrant disappeared for many years and has now resurfaced as of October 2011. We find this to be incredibly suspicious …what’s interesting to us is that this case comes up pretty much at the same time as the Japanese whaling industry is bringing civil action against SSCS in the United States, and from SSCS perspective, we would not be surprised if there are Japanese whaling interests behind this latest effort to extradite Captain Paul Watson to Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, an international campaign is mounting to let all know “this is a politically motivated case and that Captain Paul Watson will not receive a fair trial in Costa Rica and that he should be released immediately.”

From the SSCS webpage:

If the German Ministry of Justice and/or the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs give notice that they would not grant an extradition of Paul Watson to Costa Rica the case would be over, and Captain Watson would be set free immediately. We ask our supporters to continue to appeal the German Ministry of Justice for help.

Watson is “in high spirits despite the circumstances…this comes at a time when we are preparing a campaign in the South Pacific to stop illegal shark finning. The plight of sharks worldwide is one of the most pressing conservation issues that we face; we’ve seen global shark populations decline up to 90% in the past thirty years so what Captain Paul wants to do is use this opportunity to focus much-needed, renewed attention on marine conservation issues and on the plight of sharks in particular.”

Sea Shepherd representatives were able to visit Captain Watson in the Frankfurt prison this morning and they were able to record the following statement from Captain Watson:

In our efforts to defend the lives of whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and fish we have made some powerful enemies, most notably the government of Japan. It is no coincidence that the extradition request by Costa Rica was issued the same month (October 2011) as the Japanese whaling (ICR) lawsuit against Sea Shepherd was initiated. The extradition request was in reference to a complaint from Costa Rican fishermen who I caught poaching in Guatemalan waters. The fishermen were not injured and their boat was not damaged. The incident was fully documented for the film Sharkwater. Interpol originally denied this extradition order and deemed it as politically motivated. Therefore the question must be asked why Germany is now taking into account accusations made by illegal poachers.”

Watch the press conference in its entirety here.


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