Paul Watson, animal rights activist and Captain of the Sea Shepherd, has been detained in Frankfurt Germany,1 and Costa Rica has asked German authorities for extradition to their country based on a capias warrant issue, over Paul's interference with poachers in Costa Rican territorial waters (no one was injured and there was no damage to the poachers' boats).2 INTERPOL, has examined those charges, and found that they were politically motivated. The general Public Prosecutor to the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt has requested the extradition papers, but noted that the German federal government can stop this process if they feel it is politically motivated.
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Paul Watson is the captain of the "Sea Shepherd" and other vessels that have successfully hampered illegal Japanese whale hunting in Antarctica, but also have raised public awareness of the Canadian baby seal hunts, and recently had focused on the Faroe Islands annual whale hunts (called "grinds"), and world wide overfishing of tuna, with some tuna species face complete extinction within five years (particularly in the Mediterranean), according to fishery experts.
The Discovery Channel recently featured Watson's Faroe Island campaign in a three part special called "Whale Wars - Viking Invasion," you can see highlights and a brief summary of what is going there in the following video clip. Please be warned, some of the footage is extremely graphic.
I'm generally supportive of Watson's actions, but the Faroe Islands campaign was a bit of a tougher moral dilemma for me, but ultimately it's a moot one. The inhabitants of the Faroe Islands have been warned by their chief medical officer to stop eating whale meat and blubber, because it contains too much mercury. In fact, the Faroese have some of the highest incidents of mercury poisoning in the world. Research there has "revealed damage to fetal neural development, high blood pressure, and impaired immunity in children, as well as increased rates of Parkinson's disease, circulatory problems and possibly infertility in adults." 3
That's the irony here for me, the thing that may end up saving a lot of fish and whales is the fact we've so polluted our environment could be the only thing that will save some of them. The real question is, who will play the clock out first?
1. Sea Shepherd organization's press release.
2. Summary of the charges and trial, etc. Prosecutors filed charges in 2002 against the Canadian captain for allegedly endangering the lives of eight fishermen and for attempting to cause a shipwreck. Watson did not attend a trial on June 26, 2006, and the Costa Rican courts considered him a fugitive."
3. New Scientist article: "Faroe Islanders told to stop eating toxic whales." by Debora MacKenzie, 28 November 2008
Many thanks to mzflux who posted about this and alerted me about the story.