Veteran anti-whaling activist Paul Watson to be released on bail
Guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 May 2012 17.11 BST
Sea Shepherd group vows to fight founder's possible extradition from Germany to Costa Rica over 2002 incident at sea
Captain Paul Watson President Of Sea Shepherd Portrait Session
Paul Watson, president of Sea Shepherd, pictured last year. Photograph: Guillaume Collet/Getty Images
A veteran anti-whaling activist arrested in Germany on a decade-old charge will be released from jail on bail next week.
Paul Watson, president of the radical Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, had gained notoriety for his direct action tactics against the Japanese whaling industry. However, his current legal difficulties relate to a confrontation with illegal shark fin poachers in Central America back in 2002.
He has been told he must remain in the country pending a decision on whether or not to extradite him to Costa Rica.
Frankfurt's higher regional court announced on Friday that it had put him under preliminary arrest after deciding that an extradition would be permissible under German law. The authorities in Costa Rica now have three months to send the necessary extradition papers to Germany. However, the court said it was ultimately up to the federal justice ministry to decide whether or not to send him to Costa Rica.
Sea Shepherd's spokesman, Peter Hammarstedt, told the Guardian that Watson would spend the weekend in jail and be released once the €250,000 bail funds were available on Monday.
The group has vowed to continue to campaign to have the extradition blocked, saying the charges are politically motivated and that Watson would not get a fair trial in Costa Rica. They are also trying to convince the German authorities that his life would be in danger if he were sent there.
"I am confident that they will understand our plea for his human rights and recognise that if Captain Paul Watson were to be extradited to Costa Rica that would be the same as a death sentence," Hammerstedt said.
"We know that the shark fin mafia put a hit on Captain Paul Watson a couple of years ago," he claimed, adding that Taiwanese poacher gangs had a "long reach in the penal system in Costa Rica".
The 61-year-old Canadian, who was one of the original founders of Greenpeace, was arrested last Sunday at Frankfurt airport at the request of Costa Rica, which wants to see him extradited over a 10-year-old charge of "violating ships traffic".
The incident at the heart of the extradition request occurred back in 2002 when Watson and his crew had a confrontation with a Costa Rican ship in Guatemalan waters.
Sea Shepherd says that Watson came across the Varadero I as it was engaging in illegal "shark finning", the practice whereby sharks are caught and their fins – a delicacy in Asia – cut off. They are then thrown back into the ocean to die. According to the WWF, about 73 million sharks are killed each year, primarily for their fins.
Sea Shepherd says it had been instructed by the Guatemalan authorities to arrest and detain the crew. When they reached port in Costa Rica, however, Watson was accused of trying to ram the other ship and kill its captain.
When a prosecutor saw a film of the incident, shot by a documentary team that happened to be on board Watson's boat, the charges were dropped.
Yet, in another twist, the maritime violation charges were reinstated by another prosecutor and were then re-activated in October last year, resulting in an Interpol arrest warrant.
Sea Shepherd claims this is due to pressure being exerted by the Japanese whaling industry, which is currently filing a civil suit against the organisation in the US.
"Ten years later they have decided to reissue the warrant at exactly the same time as we are really battling it out with the Japanese whaling industry," Peter Hammarstedt told the Guardian.
Critics have accused Watson of being a pirate or even eco-terrorist because of his aggressive exploits and he has run afoul of the powers that be before. In 1993 he was arrested by Canadian authorities for chasing trawlers off the coast of Newfoundland.
Watson successfully defended his actions on the basis of the United Nations World Charter for Nature, which says that an organisation or individual has the authority to intervene to uphold international conservation rules.
South Korea planning to start scientific whaling
Updated July 05, 2012 15:24:40/ABC News
Video: Julia Gillard has expressed her opposition to South Korea's whaling plans (ABC News)
Map: Korea, Republic Of
South Korea's plans to start a so-called scientific whaling program have been widely condemned by politicians and environmental groups.
South Korean delegates confirmed the plan to kill whales in coastal waters at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Panama this morning, saying they wanted to start hunting minke whales under a loophole that allows the killing of whales for scientific research.
They said fishermen had been calling for the whales to be killed because "an increasing number of minke whales are eating away large amount of fish stocks which should be consumed by human being."
At sometimes heated talks, South Korea said it would announce later how many whales it would kill and when, but insisted that it did not need foreign approval.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she is disappointed by the announcement.
"We are completely opposed to whaling," she said.
"There's no excuse for scientific whaling, and I have instructed our ambassador in South Korea to raise this matter today at the highest levels of the Korean government.
"Our ambassador will speak to counterparts in South Korea... and indicate Australia's opposition to this decision."
Video: Greenpeace's James Lorenz slams Korean whaling 'disgrace' (ABC News)
Greenpeace has branded the plan as "an absolute disgrace" and the Opposition has called for the Government to open urgent talks with South Korea.
In its opening statement to the IWC, South Korea said it would submit its plans to kill whales for "biological and ecological data" to a scientific committee of the global body.
"In order to meet Korean fishermen's request and make up for the weak point in a non-lethal sighting survey, the Korean government is currently considering conducting whaling for scientific research in accordance with Article VIII of the Convention," the statement reads.
It said the plan would be presented in full to the next meeting of the scientific committee.
And in a warning to critics of whaling, the South Korean delegation said: "It is essential that member governments mutually recognise the importance of cultural diversity and heritage of other countries."
"Any differences should be resolved through dialogue and cooperation based on mutual understanding," the statement said.
The move would echo the Japanese whaling program, which is also conducted under the auspices of scientific research.
The BBC quoted New Zealand's delegation head as saying that the plan "bordered on the reckless".
South Korea said it had data that "the minke whale population in the north Pacific has recovered considerably to the level maintained before the Moratorium."
"As a result, fishermen in this area are consistently calling for limited whaling," it said.
"This is because they are experiencing disturbances in their fishing activities due to frequent occurrences of cetaceans in their fishing grounds and an increasing number of minke whales are eating away large amount of fish stocks which should be consumed by human being." ...<cont>
Japan has told the United Nation's highest court that Australia's anti-whaling stance is part of a "civilising mission and moral crusade" that is totally out of place in the modern world.
The Japanese govt is often quite a bunch of sociopaths.
When they subjugated half of East Asia they were only sorry that they got caught.
U. S. Imperialism: A Century of Slaughter
by Lance Selfa
International Socialist Review Issue 7, Spring 1999
U.S. Drowns Its Opponents in Blood
Whenever the colonial subjects of the U.S. fought back, the U.S. drowned them in blood. As Mark Twain commented on the Philippine war:
We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields; burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors; furnished heartbreak by exile to some dozens of disagreeable patriots; subjugated the remaining ten millions by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket; we have acquired property in the three hundred concubines and other slaves of our business partner, the Sultan of Sulu, and hoisted our protecting flag over that swag.
And so, by these Providences of God--and the phrase is the government's, not mine--we are a World Power.
In the 1900-1903 war to conquer the Philippines, the U.S. killed more than 1 million people. In the midst of that war, U.S. Army General Shefter said: "It may be necessary to kill half of the Filipinos in order that the remaining half of the population may be advanced to a higher plane of life than their present semi-barbarous state affords."
Yet the real barbarians are the generals and politicians who run the U.S. military machine. The U.S. is still the only country to use the ultimate weapon of genocide--the atomic bomb. Another horrific example of the destruction the U.S. is prepared to wreak took place during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. By the time the U.S. was finally forced to withdraw in 1975, much of the country had been saturated with chemical weapons, and the war had claimed two million Vietnamese and Cambodian lives.
Ill proudly fly my jolly Roger. I care not what the consensus is. They've usually been wrong.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that Japan's whaling program in the Antarctic is not for scientific purposes and has forbidden the granting of further whaling permits.
The finding by a 16-judge panel at the ICJ is in favour of Australia's argument that Japan's whaling program is carried out for commercial purposes.
Japan has used the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which permits killing for research, to justify killing whales in the Antarctic.
But the court's judges agreed with Australia that the Japanese research - two peer-reviewed papers since 2005, based on results obtained from just nine killed whales - was not proportionate to the number of animals killed.
"In light of the fact the Jarpa II [research program] has been going on since 2005, and has involved the killing of about 3,600 minke whales, the scientific output to date appears limited," said presiding judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia.
Video: Mary Gearin discusses ICJ ruling in The Hague (Lateline)
"Japan shall revoke any existent authorisation, permit or licence granted in relation to Jarpa II and refrain from granting any further permits in pursuance to the program."
Japan signed a 1986 moratorium on whaling, but has continued to hunt up to 850 minke whales in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean each year.
The ICJ's ruling is final and there will be no appeal.
While Japan has committed to abide by the court's ruling it is free to continue whaling if it withdraws from the 1986 moratorium or the 1946 treaty.
Japan had argued it has complied with the moratorium despite its 2,000-year tradition of whale hunting, leaving coastal communities in "anguish" because they can no longer practise their ancestral traditions