Whale's show of support
A DOZEN people and at least one whale participated in a global day of protest at Byron Bay Lighthouse yesterday against the arrest of an internationally renowned anti-whaler.
The protesters were demanding the release of Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, who was taken into custody in Germany earlier this month on an international arrest warrant.
The German government plans to extradite Mr Watson to Costa Rica related to charges stemming from a high seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002, including a charge of attempted murder.
As the banner-waving contingent posed for pictures atop the lighthouse, as if on cue a whale breached behind them 1.5km off the coast, sparking cheers.
The protesters interpreted it as a sign of support from the animal world for their cause.
Protest organiser Dean Jeffery said the day of action was being staged in capital cities around Australia and the world against what the conservation movement believed were trumped-up, politically motivated charges against Mr Watson brought after pressure from the "shark fin mafia".
"We decided to also have a protest at Byron Bay Lighthouse to give the whales an opportunity to join in, which they did," Mr Jeffery said.
The protest was timed to coincide with a visit by the president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, to German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
Mullumbimby's Adam Shostak was in a party of three that travelled to Brisbane on Friday to hand over a letter to the German embassy demanding Paul Watson's release.
Mr Shostak said consular staff "chickened out" from receiving the letter but they got it passed on regardless by enlisting the help of a security guard.
The protestors said the international storm of protest sparked by Mr Watson's arrest was already having an effect, with the German government releasing him on bail despite the extradition order.