Sea Shepherd Founder Paul Watson Arrested In Germany
May 14, 2012

Sea Shepherd Founder Paul Watson Arrested In Germany

Brett Smith for

Founder of the anti-whaling organization Sea Shepherd and star of the Animal Planet show Whale Wars, Paul Watson, was arrested Saturday in Germany for a possible extradition to Costa Rica on charges of violating of ships traffic stemming from a 2002 incident. Several media sources report Watson also faces attempted murder charges linked to the same event.

According to the Sea Shepherd website, the incident occurred while Watson was filming the documentary Sharkwater, which followed the group as they challenged shark hunters off the coasts of Central America.

During the course of filming in Guatemalan waters, the Sea Shepherd intercepted the Costa Rican vessel, Varadero, which the group said was “shark finning,” or the illegal practice of catching sharks, removing their fins, and returning them to the water where they typically die soon after.

In their statement, the animal rights group said Guatemalan authorities instructed them to force the Varadero and crew back to one of their ports to be prosecuted. As the two boats were en route to Guatemala, the Sea Shepherd crew found themselves unexpectedly on the defensive.

"While escorting the Varadero back to port, the tables were turned and a Guatemalan gunboat was dispatched to intercept the Sea Shepherd crew," the online statement claims.

"The crew of the Varadero accused the Sea Shepherd 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´s official Twitter feed showed two posts related to his German arrest, the latest appearing late Sunday night.

"I am currently being held in Frankfurt on charges from Costa Rica," Watson tweeted.

"Court appearance in the morning," he later wrote on the micro-blogging site.

Watson, a Canadian national, is well known for his campaigns against Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, as documented on the Animal Planet reality show. In an October 2008 interview from the Animal Planet website, he explained his motivation for staring the Sea Shepherd program in 1977.

“I felt that there was a need for an interventionist organization,” he said. “I was tired of protesting.”

“I´m actually totally apposed [sic] to protesting. It's sort of like ℠please, please don't kill the whales.´ You know? That wasn't getting us anywhere. Well, the thing that I'm most satisfied with is that since leaving Greenpeace, since '77, I haven't seen a whale die. That's what Sea Shepherd is good at, stopping the killing of whales – or seals, fish, sharks and sea turtles.”

To achieve their mission, the Sea Shepherd organization uses a fleet of large and small ships and a helicopter. They also employ ℠weapons´ such as stink bombs and slippery bombs, containing a non-toxic substance that is “virtually harmless until the compound comes in contact with water, then any surface can become so slippery it's impossible to stand, making working conditions for the whalers impossible,” according to Animal Planet.