The 62-year-old founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society announced his resignation yesterday as President of the U.S. and Australia chapters; adding that he will “hold no paid position with Sea Shepherd anywhere Sea Shepherd is registered and operates as a non-profit organization in any nation.”
Sea Shepherd’s Australian manager, Jeff Hansen, will also help guide the campaign.
Watson’s decision comes on the heels of a US appeals court decision to temporary block the SSCS from attacking the whalers or coming within 450 metres of their ships in the Antarctic.
“As a United States citizen, I will respect and comply with the ruling of the United States 9th District Court and will not violate the temporary injunction granted to the Institute for Cetacean Research,” he says in a statement. “I will participate as an observer within the boundaries established by the 9th Circuit Court of the United States.”
It’s a shrewd move – and one that was likely calculated by the group and its clever lawyers in the event of the injunction happening. With Watson removing himself and the US chapter (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) named specifically in the ruling, the organization’s other international chapters are free to continue business as usual. The US does not have jurisdiction over charities based elsewhere.
As for Watson’s reduced role, Bob Brown insists it will stay that way.
“He’s behind the scenes, but he’s not in charge of the operation,” Brown told Stuff.co.nz. “I’ll be every day working, as will Jeff, working with the Sea Shepherd fleet under the authority of Sea Shepherd Australia, to make sure this mission is successful.”
The Japanese whaling fleet has a quota to kill up to 935 minke whales, 50 fin whales and 50 humpbacks. They will go up against a newly-strengthened Sea Shepherd fleet of four ships and more than 100 international crew representing 23 nations.