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Fugitive whale campaigner makes Japan vow

August 31, 2012
SYDNEY: Fugitive Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson vowed today to spearhead his group’s next campaign against Japan’s annual whale hunt, pledging to prevent a single animal being killed.

The Canadian has an Interpol arrest warrant out on him after skipping bail in Germany in July on charges stemming from a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002 and he has not been seen since.

He says the charges are part of a “politically motivated” attempt led by Japan to put an end to his efforts against whaling.

His main ship the Steve Irwin arrived in Sydney on Friday, but there was no sign of Watson.

However, the Sea Shepherd website said he was expected to make a presentation at a fundraiser for this year’s anti-whaling campaign in Sydney in November.

The Japanese whaling fleet usually sets off around December, with Sea Shepherd ships departing Australia to harrass them soon after.

Writing on his organisation’s website, Watson, 61, said: “Presently I am in a place where I cannot be touched by the Interpol ‘red’ notice.

“Our legal team is working on exposing the local warrants from Costa Rica and Japan as being politically motivated with the objective of having Interpol disregard them.”

In the meantime, he said he was preparing for the next campaign against the Japan whale hunt, which this year was being called “Operation Zero Tolerance”.

“Our goal this year is to achieve zero kills and we will do all within our power to make that goal a reality,” he said.

“It is expected that the Japanese will do whatever they can to stop us and one of their tactics is to eliminate me as the leader of this campaign.

“They may or may not do so but either way they cannot stop the passion of my officers and crew, who will stand with me or who will stand, if need be, without me.”

Watson, who for years has harassed Japan’s whale hunt off Antarctica, was arrested in Germany in May for extradition to Costa Rica over the shark finning incident in 2002.

Japan has confirmed it asked Berlin to extradite Watson a few days before the marine conservationist skipped bail.

Watson said that if he was “captured and politically crucified” before the next whale hunt, the Japanese “will find that I am not meek and unprepared”.

“The loss of my personal freedom or even my life will be a fair price for achieving the objective of realising the security of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” he said.

Commercial whaling is banned under an international treaty but Japan has since 1987 used a loophole to carry out “lethal research” in the name of science — a practice condemned by environmentalists and anti-whaling nations.



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