redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has stepped down as the head of the conservation group featured on the TV program Whale Wars in order to comply with a US court order.
According to CNN, the injunction was granted to a pair of Japanese firms — the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) and Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd. — by the Ninth Circuit Court of the United States. It prohibits Watson and his team from coming within 1,500 feet of the plaintiffs on the open seas.
In a statement posted to the organization´s website on Monday, Watson said that he was resigning as the conservation society´s president in both the US and Australia, as the captain of his vessel, the Steve Irwin, and as the executive director of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA because he had been “personally named in the injunction.”
He added that he would “hold no paid position with Sea Shepherd anywhere Sea Shepherd is registered and operates as a non-profit organization in any nation,” but would “participate as an observer within the boundaries established by the 9th Circuit Court of the United States.”
He was replaced as the captain of the Steve Irwin by India´s Siddharth Chakravarty, and in other capacities by former Australian Senator and Greens Party leader Bob Brown, who joined Sea Shepherd´s board of directors in December 2012 .
Brown, who was also initially hired on to spearhead the group´s efforts to protect the world´s largest humpback whale nursery from a proposed petroleum hub, told UPI that Watson would continue to work with Sea Shepherd “behind the scenes” but was no longer in charge of the organization´s day-to-day operations.
“For the 35 years since I founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, I have strived to act non-violently and within the boundaries of the law,” Watson said. “During Sea Shepherd’s long history, we have never caused a single injury to any person. Although we have broken some bureaucratic regulations like Canada’s so-called Seal Protection Act, we did so to challenge the validity of these regulations.”
“In all other respects, we have always operated within the boundaries of the law, both international and national. I myself have never been convicted of a felony crime,” he added.
Watson gained international fame thanks largely to the weekly documentary television program Whale Wars, which has been broadcast on the Animal Planet network since 2008. To date the Emmy-nominated program has been on for five seasons, airing more than 50 episodes through the end of 2012.