loading

Chapter 1

Activist Hero or
Uncommon Criminal

Scroll
Use scrollbars or arrows to navigate
Antarctica may be the most ruthless wilderness on the planet, but profit-hungry merchants began trekking to this frozen desert centuries ago in search of whales.

For millennia, these majestic and prized creatures have hunted their prey in Antarctica. Humans have followed close behind, nearly hunting whales into extinction. Today, industrial hunting of whales still threatens to bring the ocean, and the planet’s fragile ecosystem, to its knees.

A band of self-proclaimed protectors, led by Paul Watson, has vowed to bring whale hunting to an end, and they won’t let anything — or anyone — stand in their way.

For the past nine winters, Paul and the Sea Shepherd fleet have tormented the Japanese whaling fleet, allegedly flouting international law and obliterating the stereotype of the peaceful conservationist. Is Paul the ultimate self-sacrificing environmental activist or a high-minded pirate? It depends who you ask.
You don't need a peg leg or an eye patch. When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid... and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.

Judge Alex Kozinski | 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Paul Watson: Prisoner at Sea

In 2012, the battle between Paul and the Japanese moved from the high seas to the court room. After years of enduring acid attacks and ship-ramming clashes, the Japanese retaliated with a crushing counterblow: an "Interpol Red Notice." This notice, usually reserved for those who represent the most serious international threats, forced Paul into hiding. If he sets foot in over 190 Interpol-member countries, he could face extradition.

Scroll
Costa Rica
Germany
United States
Japan

Costa Rica

In April 2002, Paul and the Sea Shepherds discovered a Costa Rican fishing vessel, the Varadero, allegedly engaged in illegal shark finning in Costa Rican waters. Paul asked the Varadero crew to stop and release their catch and return to port for prosecution. The Varadero crew maintains that Paul then rammed their vessel in an attempt to sink them, but Paul refutes that claim, saying when he attempted to escort them to shore the vessels collided. Paul was charged with attempted shipwrecking but the case was quickly dropped when tapes from an onboard documentary crew for the film Sharkwater showed video evidence to the contrary.

United States

As if two Interpol “Red Notices” weren’t enough, the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) kept the pressure on Paul in late 2012 and early 2013 with their filing of an injunction against him and Sea Shepherd U.S.A. in U.S. federal court. The U.S. court granted the injunction and ordered Paul and Sea Shepherd U.S.A. to stay at least 500 yards away from any future Japanese whaling operations. To comply with the injunction, and to prevent any delay in future Sea Shepherd anti-whaling operations, Paul resigned as president of Sea Shepherd U.S.A.

Germany

10 years later, Paul arrived in Frankfurt, Germany in August of 2012 but was immediately arrested at the airport because Costa Rica had unexpectedly re-opened the case against him for “violating ships traffic.” Paul posted bail but Germany requested that he stay in the country as the government fully investigated Costa Rica’s extradition request. While out on bail, Paul received a tip that he could be extradited to Japan, not Costa Rica, so he slipped out of Germany rather than face that possibility. When Paul missed his next check-in with German authorities his attorney informed the Germans that his client had left the country for an “unknown destination.” Costa Rica then issued an international “Red Notice” through Interpol.

Japan

Just one month later, in September of 2012, Paul is informed that Japan has issued a second Interpol “Red Notice” against him for charges stemming from his actions against Japan’s Antarctic whaling operations in the Southern Ocean. Japan states, “Mr. Watson is sought for prosecution by Japan on charges of ‘Breaking into the Vessel, Damage to Property, Forcible Obstruction of Business, and Injury’ in relation to two incidents that took place on the Antarctic Ocean in February 2010 against a Japanese whaling ship.”
A Different View:  Japan
As a country with a rich sea-farming tradition, Japan argues that it should be allowed to harvest the oceans just like countries that have land-farming traditions. Despite Paul and the Sea Shepherd’s protest, Japan also maintains that it has permission from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to conduct scientific research on whales.
As recently as 50 years ago, whales were considered by most countries to be a resource to be exploited – not a species that required protection.

In fact, in the 19th century, the United States was a global leader in whaling. The U.S. owned three times more whaling ships than the rest of the world combined and the whaling industry was so lucrative it was the fifth largest contributor to the growing economy.

This interactive episode can be experienced on tablets and desktops.