BERLIN – Paul Watson, the fugitive founder of environmental group Sea Shepherd, vowed Tuesday to continue disrupting Japan's whaling fleet when it heads for the southern oceans this winter, despite authorities in at least three countries seeking his arrest.
The 61-year-old Canadian was detained in Germany in May on a Costa Rican extradition warrant that accused him of endangering the crew of a fishing vessel in 2002.
About ten days ago Watson, who sees himself as an advocate for whales, sharks and other marine animals, skipped bail after learning that Japan, too, was seeking his extradition from Germany.
"I can serve my clients better at sea than in a Japanese prison cell and I intend to do just that," he said in a statement issued by his U.S.-based group, which didn't disclose his current location. "In December, our ships will sail forth for the ninth campaign to oppose the outlaw Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."
The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is a vast conservation area around Antarctica in which commercial whaling operations are banned.
Watson said he believed the Japanese warrant related to the collision of a Japanese whaling support ship and a Sea Shepherd boat in January 2010. Sea Shepherd has accused the Japanese ship of deliberately ramming its futuristic, rocket-shaped boat, the Ady Gil, and eventually causing it to sink. The whalers denied it, saying the Ady Gil's captain deliberately put his vessel in their ship's path.
Watson said he expects Japanese authorities "to exploit all avenues to find a way to stop me."
"I have, however, eluded them once again and I will continue to try and keep a step ahead of them, no matter what risks and costs have to be made."
German authorities issued a warrant for Watson's arrest after he failed to report to police, as required under his bail conditions which also included a €250,000 ($320,000) bond.