After skipping bail in Germany, the founder of the Friday Harbor-based Sea Shepherd group is headed to Antarctica to impede Japanese whaling fleets.

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The founder of the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd is returning to Antarctic waters to track and confront Japanese whaling fleets, months after skipping bail in Germany.

From aboard a Sea Shepherd ship, Paul Watson on Tuesday said his job is to protect whales, which he can’t do if he’s in custody. He said the Sea Shepherd fleet is already in the Southern Ocean.

In July, Watson fled Germany after being arrested at the behest of the Costa Rican government, which claims he endangered a fishing-vessel crew in 2002.

Watson, a Canadian citizen, left Greenpeace in 1977 to set up the more action-oriented Sea Shepherd. The group has waged aggressive campaigns to protect whales, dolphins and other marine animals, prompting Japanese officials to label its members terrorists and seek Watson’s arrest for allegedly masterminding violent protests.

Sea Shepherd activists use stink bombs and other nonlethal means to interfere with the whalers. The group argues its activities are supported by international law.