|Activist Paul Watson (Supplied photo)
Canadian-born environmentalist and fugitive Paul Watson has stepped down from several positions he held at the Sea Shepherd Society, the eco-group he founded.
Watson is wanted in Costa Rica to face charges in connection to a violent confrontation with a shark-finning crew in 2002. He remains on the lam after skipping bail in Germany, where he was arrested in May.
The Sea Shepherd skipper said he fears eventual extradition to Japan, where he's also a wanted man.
But in order to comply with a court injuction, Watson, now an American citizen, said he resigned as president of the organization in both the States and Australia, and as executive director in the U.S.
"I will hold no paid position with Sea Shepherd anywhere Sea Shepherd is registered and operates as a non-profit organization in any nation," he wrote on the group's website.
The injunction issued in December, which names Watson personally, bars Sea Shepherd U.S. from intervening in activities by Japan's Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR), which the environmental group calls "a front for illegal, government-subsidized whaling."
However, according to another statement on the website, Watson will remain on board the SSS Steve Irwin to document the campaign against ICR, which involves sailing to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in Antarctica.
"I will participate as an observer within the boundaries established by the (court)," Watson wrote. "For the 35 years since I founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society I have strived to act non-violently and within the boundaries of the law."