Sea Shepherd Conservation Society president Paul Watson.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society president Paul Watson. Brett Wortman

Interpol hunts Sea Shepherd president

INTERPOL has issued an international notice seeking the arrest of anti-whaling campaigner Paul Watson after he skipped bail in Germany.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society president, who is best known for his clashes at sea with Japanese whalers, was arrested in Frankfurt on May 13 on a warrant from Costa Rica.

He was held by German authorities for a week before being released on bail. Sea Shepherd confirmed in a statement Mr Watson had fled Germany on July 22, but did not reveal his location.

The 61-year-old Canadian is wanted in Costa Rica on charges stemming from a 2002 incident at sea.
Costa Rican authorities allege Mr Watson was involved in a confrontation with shark finners during filming for the documentary, Sharkwater.

"Based on Mr Watson's failure to satisfy the bail conditions set by the German court, and the additional information provided by Costa Rica concerning the underlying charges, it was concluded that a Red Notice could be issued in compliance with Interpol's Constitution and rules," INTERPOL said in a statement.

A Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant, but a "request by Interpol for member countries to determine whether they can detain or arrest an individual in order for the requesting country to seek their extradition".

Interpol, which facilitates international police cooperation, does not have the power to demand that member countries arrest the subject of a Red Notice.

In its statement, Sea Shepherd accused Costa Rica of colluding with Japan in pursuing Mr Watson.

"The elevation of the attack against our organisation and our founder, Captain Watson, is not unexpected," Sea Shepherd administrative director Susan Hartland said.

"Costa Rica has been acting as a puppet for Japan throughout this case and we expect that to continue.

"Japan is driving this effort in retaliation for our successful campaigns to stop them from whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We've cost them millions of dollars and exposed their shame to the world because of their refusal to stop the slaughter of whales in an established sanctuary under the lie and loophole of research."