Somewhere in international waters, Captain Paul Watson is biding his time.
The 61-year-old founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been wanted by Interpol ever since skipping bail in Germany in July on charges stemming from a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002. While he's remained in contact with his organization and the media, no one has seen him since the incident.
“I’m safe … at sea,” he recently told the Globe and Mail by satellite phone. “Let’s leave it at that.”
Despite labels to the contrary, Watson also disputes the fugitive status he's been given.
"Another bit of misinformation is that I am fugitive from justice," he wrote to supporters. "I am not, and it is not a crime for anyone to work with or assist me. It is a complicated case, but I am not wanted outside of Japan, Costa Rica and Germany. There is no arrest warrant for me outside of these three countries and with regard to Germany, I have not broken any German law. Skipping bail is not a crime in Germany independent of the charge that was the cause of my being detained."
Despite his location, Watson has every intention of re-joining his fleet of four ships when the next anti-whaling campaign against the Japanese kicks off. "If I can return to my ships, I will," he said. "If not, my captains and their crews will return without me to once more defend the whales in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary."
Watson went on to add that when he returns, it will likely be to either the United States or Australia. He currently has lawyers in four countries working on his case. As for his time in exile, he admits that it has given him some peace.
“I can’t say that it has been unpleasant,” he said. “As a matter of fact I don’t think that I have had the opportunity to enjoy nature so much in years.”
Operation Zero Tolerance, which will include not-yet-revealed new vessel the MV Sam Simon, will commence later this year.