"Whale Wars'" Paul Watson on waging battle against whalers, being at sea for 15 months


Captain Paul Watson is a controversial environmental activist and unlikely reality television star. He's been in trouble with governments on at least three continents and is the star of Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars.”

The show chronicles Watson’s group, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and their fight to stop whaling. Commercial whaling is banned by international agreements, but the Japanese and a few others are still launching harpoons.

When the Japanese obtained an international arrest warrant for Watson, he was forced to live on the world’s oceans for 15 months. Watson told the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts that the warrant was issued for trespassing and he thinks “that it’s all very political” because he believes no one gets extradition orders for trespassing.

“Japan has taken $30 million from the tsunami relief fund to use, just to try and shut down Sea Shepherd’s activities and so they sent an army of lawyers after us. We’ve been charged with contempt in the U.S. courts, but they haven’t been able to stop Sea Shepherd,” said Watson. “Three ships with 100 crew from 24 nations leave in a week to go down there.”

Watson told the co-hosts that he would characterize Sea Shepherd’s tactics as “enforcing international conservation law” and defended his organization against critics that say Sea Shepherd’s procedures are too aggressive and violent.  

“They destroyed one of our ships, injured our crew and they kill whales, so if you’re talking about violence, it’s the whalers that are violent,” he said. “We have never injured anybody.”

He also said that they are definitely winning the war against the whalers.

“Last year, they only took 9 percent of their quota; the year before that 17 percent and so Sea Shepherd has been able to effectively shut down their illegal whaling operations in the Southern Ocean,” said Watson.

The captain explained that Japan is the “primary culprit” of whaling transgressions and the country is “targeting endangered whales in an internationally established whale sanctuary,” which he says is a “violation of a global moratorium on whaling and in contempt of the Australian Federal court.”  

He said that there’s “no market” for whales, so he’s not sure why they are fighting so hard to kill them.

“It’s like they have this policy. If we give in on whaling, we might have to give in on Blue Fin Tuna and nobody is going to tell them what to do,” he said. “But, this is a sanctuary that they are killing whales in and the nations of the world have a responsibility to uphold those laws, but they’re not doing it and because of that non-government organizations have to do it for them.”

He said what he fears from all of this is “loosing the whales” and a “diminishment of life in our oceans.”

“If the oceans die, we die,” he said.