Sea Shepherd Captain Hands Over Reins With Interpol Looking On

Activists vessels carry on to head-off Japanese whaling fleet
- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
Paul Watson, founder of marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd stepped down today as Captain of the Steve Irwin and director of the group after nine years of fighting to stop the Japanese whaling industry in the Southern Ocean.

The ship "Steve Irwin" from the environmental activist group Sea Shepherd sits at anchor near Perth, Australia on December 7, 2011. (AFP) As the Sea Shepherd fleet prepares to blockade Japanese whaling vessels in the Antarctic, Watson plans to remain on board to document the voyage but has handed over the reigns of the group for this year's campaign to former Australian Green Party founder Bob Brown.

Sea Shepherd Australia director Jeff Hansen said the change in leadership had to do with Watson's recent legal problems.

Watson, who recently returned to the Sea Shepherd fleet, had spent the past several months evading Interpol. Watson fled from Germany earlier this year after being arrested on request of the Costa Rican government which is pursuing him on a warrant that claims he endangered a fishing vessel crew in 2002.

Watson maintains that the charges against him are politically motivated and can be traced back the Japanese government, who would like to see him out of the world's oceans.
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