industry news

Sea Shepherd Founder Arrested in Germany

Kelly Slater Calls For Immediate Release of Captain Paul Watson

| posted on May 22, 2012

Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson and Kelly Slater. Photo: Deborah Bassett

(May 22, 2012) — Sea Shepherd Founder Captain Paul Watson has been under arrest in Frankfurt, Germany, and faces extradition to Costa Rica for an incident that occurred over a decade ago when he apprehended an illegal shark finning operation off the coast of Guatemala. While Captain Watson was “released” Monday from Frankfurt prison on 250,000 Euro bail on Monday, he remains under house arrest during which time the German courts will consider whatever documentation Costa Rica is able to produce in what appears to be a case motivated by political agenda.

Captain Watson’s arrest is based on allegations of violating “ships traffic” in Guatemalan waters, after a clash in 2002 between fishermen on the ship Varadero who were illegally poaching sharks and the Sea Shepherd’s ship, Ocean Warrior. After apprehending the Varadero in Guatemalan waters on what Sea Shepherd said were orders from Guatemalan authorities, the fisherman accused Captain Watson of attempted murder. Watson was prosecuted upon return to Costa Rica and the initial charges were dismissed. A second arrest warrant was later filed but lapsed before it was mysteriously reactivated last October even after Interpol released a statement in which it said it refused in March to publish a Red Notice seeking Captain Watson’s arrest because its Office of Legal Affairs was not satisfied the request complied with Interpol’s constitution and rules.

Eleven-time World Surfing Champion and Sea Shepherd Advisory Board member, Kelly Slater, recently stepped up to the plate to rally international support for Captain Paul Watson in the surfing world. On Sunday he wrote:

“This situation cannot thrive if there is transparency. For example, connections and investments by the Chinese and Taiwanese with Costa Rican for infrastructure investments in Costa Rica, result in Costa Rica turning a blind eye to the shark finning industry and illegal fishing off the coast, all the while Costa Rica promotes ecotourism based upon the country’s biodiversity and natural beauty. If a light is shined on these connections, their ability to pull secret levers of power will evaporate.”

The incident in question was thoroughly documented in the award winning film Sharkwater, released in 2007, which brought world wide media attention to the hideous reality of the corrupt and brutal shark finning industry. A recent clip of the incident was issued by Film Maker Rob Stewart in order to prove Captain Watson’s innocence and be viewed below.

Added Slater: “The situation that we find Captain Watson in, now shines a light on these dark corners. It is literally now a simple choice by government, to overturn and release Captain Watson given that the entire incident where he confronted the illegal poachers was caught on tape. The video establishes the facts, and this calls into question the motives of those continuing to pursue Captain Watson despite those facts. No person or vessel was injured during the melee and Watson was following instructions from Guatemalan government officials while protecting natural resources under the UN protocol. He’s already paid a fine and been released, but someone still has a bone to pick with him somewhere else in the world, and they are wrongly being helped behind closed doors by some murky government power.

In the event that Captain Watson is extradited to Costa Rica, it is inevitable that he would not receive a fair trial, nor would his safety be guaranteed. Between the illegal activities of the Japanese whaling industry and the notorious shark finning mafia in Costa Rica, Captain Watson has made several formidable enemies throughout his 40 years on the front lines who seek to stop his highly successful efforts to uphold global conservation laws and defend marine life. The shark finning mafia, which operates illegally in Costa Rica, could easily try to harm Captain Watson and extradition to Costa Rica could result in what Captain Watson described in his own words as “a certain death sentence.”

On May 23rd day of action to Free Paul Waston is set to take place at German embassies and consulates around the world to encourage Germany to stop extradition to Costa Rica and release Captain Watson. On this day the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, will be visiting German Chancellor Merkel in Berlin. Please see the Sea Shepherd Website for further details on events in your area. — Deborah Bassett

Captain Watson has given the majority of his life for the protections of those who do not have a voice and now it is our turn to be a voice for him. Please contact the two people who have the power to release Captain Paul Watson by respectfully contacting the following individuals:

Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger
Federal Minister of Justice
Deutscher Bundestag
Platz der Republik
11011 Berlin
Telephone 030 – 227 751 62
Fax 030 – 227 764 02

Federal Ministry of Justice
Mohrenstrasse 37
10117 Berlin, Germany
Telephone: +49 (030) 18 580-0
Telefax: +49 (030) 18 580-9525
Dr. Guido Westerwelle

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Platz der Republik 1
11011 Berlin
Tel.: 030 / 22771636
Fax: 030 / 22776562

  • Marcelo

    How the hell Kelly´s got time to do so many different thing, so many important things and still being the best surfer in the world. Not human, that´s for sure

  • D.F.

    While this group aims to protect oceanic resources, which are valuable to most surfers, their methods are too polarizing, in my opinion, to warrant this kind of endorsement from Surfermag.

    If Slater chooses to support them, fine, he is a private individual, but I’d prefer if you guys could keep advocacy out of our your articles. Biases are OK, I understand, most surfers support oceanic conservation anyway, but to publish the course of action to support Paul Watson? Too far, and disappointing for one surfer who loves the ocean, but cannot stand Watson’s egotistical worldview and regularly insulting statements towards the Japanese people, who don’t bear full blame of their government’s whale fishings.

  • jeff

    I’m sure the German government is taking Kelly’s request very seriously…..

  • mein fruher

    8 men with wetsuits and surfboards protested outside of the Berlin jail today.
    the protesters violently swung their leashes when they were asked to leave promptly. protesters drew shark fins in wax all over the grounds. .. a bald gentleman with a brand new al merrick showed up and all the police gave him 10’s in francs. peace at last.

  • Niko

    As a Costa Rican, a surfer and a recreational fisherman I’m all for protecting our oceanic resources, but the approach Paul Watson is taking in this matter is completely wrong. How does he think he is going to stop shark finning by attacking the vessels of poor Costa Rican fishermen who in many cases is the only source of work they have. You Mr. Watson are an egomaniac who has not once in your life been in the economical position many of us Costa Ricans have to face every day. If you want to make a difference don’t go attacking this poor fishermen who are merely pawns in this so called shark finning mafia. I can certainly understand how you could be charged of attempted murder after you slammed your boat on the side of that small fishing boat and I most certainly hope you get extradited to our country.



  • TK

    Kelly, no one is opposing to what Paul Watson is trying accomplish but his violent methods are a crime. You are too great to be supporting a criminal, especially in public.

  • Jay

    He will NEVER be charged. This is political propoganda and wont hold up,even in shit 3rd world Costa Rica. The only crime is that he didnt kill this shitbag and stop the illegal ocean poaching he and the rest of Costa Rica is doing and has been doing for years. As for Japan,we should have finished the job years ago and ended it,period. We had the right idea just didnt have the sac to finishnthe job that was planned and that is too bad. Because once again they are one of the main problems of many issues and are given too much credit that they dont deserve.They are the trash of this world and we let em live this long to get there. A SHAME!!!!!

  • abbott

    Wow yeah Paul has an ego but how many people out there want to dedicate thier lives right now until people are gonna let the ecosystem work on it’s own without people destroying it cause they need to make a buck seriously? Help the guy out he’s been been trying to help our planet,and everyone on it. I can deal with ego.

  • Mike

    How else are you going to stop illegal fishing? Callthe cops? Goodluck with that. Most of the timethey don’t do anything to him in spite of the fact he rams their boats, which should tell you something.

  • jeff

    Yeah Niko, I really trust justice in third world banana republics. Bunch of savages.

  • Cole

    I agree with Niko completely. These poor fishermen are trying to make a living and feed their families the only way they know how and nobody even considers this fact. Hypothetically, regardless of what these guys are fishing for now the captain could have worked his ass off in an honest job his entire life to get that little rincky dink boat. Here comes famous Paul Watson to crash into him on purpose and literally crush all of his hopes and dreams because he has finned some sharks. Big Whoop de do. It is incredible to me that one of the Japanese Whalers has not jumped on board to one of the activists boats and sliced them up samuri style. I dont know!

  • Jared

    Glad to see some light is being shed on this matter that simply goes beyond boats of rogue fisherman that illegally fish in often protected waters, fish protected and endangered species.
    To hear the ties between these activities and some governments is pretty sickening but shouldn’t be all that surprising. A lot of these illegal and extremely damaging actions that have been the target of Paul Watson’s personal mission to abolish fall under the safety umbrella of certain governments having influence in not only their own country but others as well, especially ones that shamefully would never admit to such atrocities (i.e.. Costa Rica). This shouldn’t just be on one persons shoulders but everyone who simply enjoys living life on this earth. This isn’t just a “surfer” issue but a “world” issue. How this is egotistical at all is beyond me. Its something thats whole heartedly courageous and completely selfless, not only for doing what he does for human kind but for the species that can’t voice their opinion on the illegal slaughter of their own.
    Certain races, countries and people have caught flack for these ever damaging actions to our earth’s ecosystems and while the only people to blame are the ones who support this and who are out on these boats and in these harbours and bringing these endangered animals to the brink of extinction, we all can’t help feeling a bit of guilt that this goes on and something more hasn’t been done to stop this ruthlessness.
    To criticize the actions that a group like Sea Shepard does to help protect not only one of the largest ecosystems on earth but one of the most fragile too all while siting on the sidelines can’t be easy, and for those people who do: GREAT JOB!
    Thanks Surfer Mag for bringing up this worldly topic that should be the concern of every person that enjoys living on this planet. Like I said before, not only is this not just a ”surfer” issue its a “world” issue.

  • Mason

    Paul Watson is an environmental terrorist and no better than the groups he opposes. His tactics are reprehensible and unnecessarily extreme. There are other avenues, more peaceful ones, to explore to pursue your goals but to resort to terrorism on the high seas because you feel it is your right is dangerous and irresponsible. I truly enjoy watching Kelly surf and am a big fan but supporting Paul Watson is akin to supporting the Taliban, Al Qaeda, or any other terrorist group who justify their extreme actions as part of the greater good of the society they feel they live in. He is ultimately responsible for his actions and instead of trying to sink ships and risk people’s loves to save whales on the high seas he could attempt a more diplomatic course of action of a lesss violent, extreme, and terroristic nature. The world has no room for people like him who live on the extreme sides of causes and justify violence to forward their causes.

  • john

    Mr. Watson is free to roam the seas as he pleases, making his presence known. But, when he physically harms another vessel, no matter what type, is criminal. Kelly should’ve thought this through a lil’ further.

  • sharklover

    shark mafia finners PLEASE come to Recife, Brazil. Here the government hides the shark attacks. Recife is really ABUNDANT of bull sharks and Tiger sharks, Really close to shore (waist deep). We need a shark population control.

  • Tony Sharks

    Its funny how “violent” Paul Watson is, looks like Sana Claus to me. Broadsiding that boat would no way be considered attempted murder by a jury. To the guy in Costa Rica: So its morally just to fin sharks to feed your family? Does that guy teach his kids its ok too? What about selling weed? cocaine? is that OK too? Robbery? Where do you draw the line? If someone can’t live and abide by their countries laws, then are they even worthy of being a citizen of that country, or calling themselves one? Yes I undersand Costa isn’t up to date with all the worlds issues, neither are most gringos, its an awareness issue though, a personal one; and in the end, we will be judged. Gee i saved all my money to buy a boat, now i can go kill sharks, run cocaine, heck, i can be a pirate even! But its ok, because I’m poor to begin with.

    And one person even comparing him to the “Taliban”, “Al Qaeda”, which are organizations funded by the USA government’s own CIA. You should join the military already and fight the “war on terror”.

    Let’s send Paul to Costa, and just sit back and let the leaders ruin, i mean run the world, killing the people, and the oceans as well. And do it with “non-violent” methods, determined by our loose morals we were raised with, while relying on a nanny government to do all the dirty work and save us. Writing letters to our congressman and senators, stuff like that, yea? Because in the end they will save the sharks, i mean they saved us from Osama bin Laden, right?

  • Verena Fischer

    If the criminals in question weren’t finning sharks, but instead were trafficking drugs openly, there would be no question about Captain Watson’s actions. If you look at the footage, you will realise that he didn’t intend to ram them, but was rather saying “This is gonna be close …” So, all they did was scare some criminals by coming very close to their boat, which is nowhere near ‘attempted murder’. Maybe they *risked* ramming the boat, but since there was no *intention* and no harm done this hardly even warrants a fine. Not Captain Watson risked the boat of these criminals, but they themselves, since their boat would have been impounded due to their illegal actions if it had been official authorities going after them. In fact the authorities would have used much more drastic measures to stop them.

    Keep in mind that shark finning is a mafia interest and that we are talking of organised crime, which risks not only the deep sea ecosystem, but with it the economic foundation of the whole fishing industry. Driving an ancient predator like the shark into extinction can have unforeseeable consequences for biodiversity and take whole species of fish with it that fishermen depend on. Oceanic conservation is not just a diversion for bored biology students, but when it comes to international laws it happens mainly out of economic interests! Protecting the stability of the deep sea ecosystem should be in the interest of fishermen, but instead they risk their own means of subsistence by turning into criminals for short-term economic gain. Threats to the fishing industry like the giant jellyfish plague in Japan could easily be directly linked to short-sighted practices like shark finning, whaling or overfishing.

  • eric

    PAUL WATSON is a terrorist. the problem is not this poor fisherman. Paul Watson action is a bad solution, the violence is a bad solution. Extrad paul watson for the justice.

  • eric

    SS and Paul Watson are liers

  • Paul

    sea shepherd protect the sharks and reunion island want to kill the sharks so extrade paul watson,so we get our spot back

  • Philippe

    paul watson has no rights to protects the sharks in reunion island,then he must be in jail ,die if it is his time, and the people from reunion island will be happy .we love sharks but we like them dead .kelly slater is a shame for surfers in reunion island to support watson.bouh

  • Mac

    Jesus don’t you shark hating morons understand that you kill the sharks you kill the oceans, it’s that simple. Thank god for people like Paul Watson and Kelly Slater, at least they have the balls to stand up and protect our oceans. Without people like them the planet will eventually be a dead one.