Over the last three decades, most of the chases involving Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson have occurred on the high seas. He’s usually the one in pursuit, chasing down and engaging in steel on steel skirmishes with whalers and shark fishermen, attempting to stop them from harpooning and finning. This past May, though, Watson was pursued, and caught, in a political and criminal net of sorts. While on a flight changeover in Frankfurt, Germany, authorities arrested him for what he says was a decade-old offense involving a Costa Rican fishing boat operating off the coast of Guatamala. We’ll let him tell that story below.
He can because he’s free, taking calls from aboard his ship the Steve Irwin. Roughly a year after it was reported that Sea Shepherd caused the Institute of Cetacean Research—the Japanese group that hunts whales—more than $20 million in losses, Watson is leading Sea Shepherd’s biggest arsenal into the Southern Ocean. At his disposal are four ships, aerial drones, numerous speed boats, a helicopter, and more than 100 crew members. His goal in 2012 is to try and stop Japan from getting a single whale. We called him up as he captains his vessel south, toward drama that’s a bit more familiar.