Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson Arrested in Germany

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) has been a thorn in the side of commercial fisheries since it first took to the seas in 1977. Determined to defend marine mammals, it has regularly made headlines for blocking marine traffic and disrupting poaching and illegal fishing.

Over the weekend, Canadian environmental activist Paul Watson was arrested in Frankfurt on a Costa Rican warrant issued last October. Sea Shepherd questioned the timing, pointing out it was issued “curiously close to the time that the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) filed their civil suit against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the United States.”

According to Sea Shepherd:

The German police have said that the warrant for Captain Watson’s arrest is in response to an alleged violation of ships traffic in Costa Rica, which occurred during the filming of Sharkwater in 2002.  The specific “violation of ships traffic” incident took place on the high seas in Guatemalan waters, when Sea Shepherd encountered an illegal shark finning operation, run by a Costa Rican ship called the Varadero.  On order of the Guatemalan authorities, Sea Shepherd instructed the crew of the Varadero to cease their shark finning activities and head back to port to be prosecuted.  While escorting the Varadero back to port, the tables were turned and a Guatemalan gunboat was dispatched to intercept the Sea Shepherd crew.  The crew of the Varadero accused the Sea Shepherds of trying to kill them, while the video evidence proves this to be a fallacy.  To avoid the Guatemalan gunboat, Sea Shepherd then set sail for Costa Rica, where they uncovered even more illegal shark finning activities in the form of dried shark fins by the thousands on the roofs of industrial buildings.

Watson is a veteran of the battle to save marine life. He was one of the original founders of Greenpeace. In 1977, he launched the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. He is no stranger to controversy.

Before he and Greenpeace parted company, he led the organization’s second campaign to stop the seal hunt off Labrador. A biography on the Sea Shepherd site tells the story:

Later on this campaign, in an effort to bring one of the sealing ship’s operations to a halt, Watson handcuffed himself to a pile of seal pelts that were attached to the winch of a sealing vessel. When the sealers saw what he had done, they dragged him and the pile of pelts across the ice then up into the air, slamming them against the hull of the ship. Then they plunged Watson into the frigid waters several times causing him to lose feeling in his limbs and lose consciousness. Finally, when Fisheries Minister officers arrived on the scene, he was strapped to a stretcher and hoisted onboard, where the sealers almost suffocated him by pressing seal blubber over his face, then dragging him across the deck through seal fat and blood, kicking him all along the way.

In the years since Watson founded SSCS, he has squared off with whalers, factory ships and governments. He has authored books, created documentaries and thumbed his nose at those who disapprove of his tactics. And he has never wavered in his commitment to marine mammals.

It is not clear yet whether Germany will agree to extradite Watson, and it is possible Costa Rica will drop the charges. In the meantime, SSCS is calling for his release and insists, “Captain Watson will not be intimidated, and he will not stop until marine life and ecosystems are given the protection they deserve.”

Sign the petition to demand his release.

Related Care2 Stories

Wikileaks Reveals U.S. Involvement in Plans to Weaken Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd to Defend Bluefin Tuna in Libyan Waters

Sea Shepherd Cuts Japan Whalers Quota in Half

Newly Discovered Shark Species Already Endangered

Photo of Captain Watson and the Sea Shepherd crew from David w ng via Wikimedia Commons


gillian brown b.
Angelflowers D5 years ago


Doris P.
Doris P5 years ago

The name of the organisation says everything about their ethos and their passion. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is all about looking after "their" flock, which is the marine lives within the ocean's of this planet. What a pity many in societies and governments can't look beyond their own short term greed and see that the Shepherds of the oceans are doing what everyone should be doing.
Always remember, we aren't trying to protect the planet, the planet will survive no matter what...what we are really trying to protect is humanity!

nicola w.
Jane H5 years ago

THank you Sea Shepherd - you are desperately needed because all our governments are so gutless !

Michelle S.
Michelle Storace5 years ago

Corporations and Govt. has taken over and Paul Watson is one of the few that understands it is LONG past the time when you can try and do something about the problems by just sitting on your ass.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner5 years ago

The shills here who spend their time attacking Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd are working undercover for environmentally destructive organizations.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner5 years ago

Dominic your gang is basically self serving and worthless. what kind of hedging and waffling is going to be useful when you somebody insists of filling out forms when the planet is being destroyed. Sea Shepherd is in fact one of the most brilliant and heroic organizations the world has ever seen for saving our world from utter destruction. If you feel like downgrading Sea Shepherd go rant to your employers and don't do it on a Caring website.

alex l.
alex l5 years ago

signed. these are the people who are doing what we should all be doing, and many of us would be if we could.

he is doing nothing illegal - spraying boats with water, trying to scare off the whales etc, is not illegal.

but killing whales in international waters IS. they are ENFORCING the law - much like a citizen's arrest.

Dominic C.
Dominic C5 years ago

Time will only catch up to him, his tactics are basically against international norms and international law. There will perhaps be more countries looking out for him. I never appreciate his tactics and I thought what Sea Shepherdians do are basically against the rule of law. There are legal avenues to address numerous environmental issues and to take matters into the hands of these people really lost a lot of respect from many countries. Sea Shepherdians are just a bunch of vigilantes on the high seas.

Deborah F.
Deborah F5 years ago

Another instance of governments trying to silence those who would embarrass them or create difficulties for them.

Cindy D.
Cindy D5 years ago

FREE PAUL!!!! "The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men." Leonardo da Vinci