In 1997 he spent 80 days in a Dutch jail after he was arrested in the Netherlands on a Norwegian warrant, for his conviction in absentia for the sinking of a Norwegian whaling vessel. There were weeks of protests in Amsterdam and at Dutch and Norwegian embassies around the world. He was released after a hearing, and Dutch authorities refused to turn him over to Norway.
He is under investigation for alleged attempted murder in Costa Rica, for an incident in April when his ship caught a Costa Rican fishing boat poaching.
Charges in the case were dropped once, after authorities were shown film of the incident shot by a documentary team that was traveling with Watson working on a movie about Sea Shepherd.
However, a new prosecutor appointed to the case revived the investigation, though no charges have yet been filed. Watson said he would not go back to Costa Rica until the issue is resolved.
In 2001, Sea Shepherd had a similar run-in with the Ecuadoran government, but was found not guilty.
He said he feels no swell of emotion among environmental and animal rights activists to take more drastic efforts to achieve their ends.
"I think there's frustration about the way things are," he said. "But I think we're all agreed that over the last 20 to 30 years there's been incredible progress made in getting people involved and making people aware. I think if there is frustration, it's in seeing the disappearing species, the disappearing wilderness."