Sea Shepherd leader, wanted by Interpol, prepares for 'whale wars'
Paul Watson plans to stop Japanese whaling 'completely', but arrest warrant means he might not be able to reach his own fleet
THIS YEAR'S 'whale wars' – the annual Antarctic duel between the Japanese whaling fleet and the conservation group Sea Shepherd – is shaping up to be fiercer than ever.
Sea Shepherd will deploy a fleet of four ships, two helicopters and four surveillance drones against the Japanese fleet, which last year consisted of a factory ship, three harpoon ships and a security ship.
This Antarctic summer, Sea Shepherd, whose ships fly a flag based on the Jolly Roger, will feel even more like a pirate fleet, with the organisation's leader, Paul Watson, the subject of an Interpol Red Notice.
In a telephone interview with Fairfax, Watson, 61, refused to disclose his location. "I don't have a passport, so it's pretty hard to move around," he said. "We've got all the ships and the funds. My obstacle is getting there, as I can't enter any country."
Watson's legal troubles date back to the 2010 boarding of a Japanese whaling ship by the Sea Shepherd activist Pete Bethune, the Melbourne Age reports.
Japan requested the Interpol warrant against Watson for alleged hooliganism, vandalism and damage.
Watson narrowly escaped arrest on the Interpol warrant by Germany in July. He had been bailed two months earlier by German authorities following Costa Rica's attempt to have him extradited for a 10-year-old maritime violation, itself suspected by some of being a ploy to move Watson to a country thought more likely to accede to a Japanese extradition request.
Watson says he skipped his €250,000 bail when he was tipped off by someone inside the German ministry of justice.
"I believe that saving the lives of a thousand whales must take priority over playing courtroom games with Japan and Costa Rica," he said. "You don't win a battle by playing by the rules of the opposition."
Watson said that Sea Shepherd's strategy of slowly draining the Japanese fleet of resources would continue this year: "We aim to stop them completely this time. They will be so financially in the hole that they can't climb out."
Donations have come pouring in thanks to Watson's well-publicised legal troubles, and Sea Shepherd's fleet has been joined by a new fast ship called the Sam Simon.