A United States Court of Appeals has confirmed what many mariners have been saying for years: that Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are nothing but a bunch of pirates.
On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th District in Washington upheld an injunction barring the controversial anti-whaling group from targeting and attacking the whaling research ships of Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research in the Southern Ocean.
“You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch. When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be,” said Chief Judge Alex Kozinski.
Chief Judge Kozinski added:
The United States, Japan and many other nations are signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling… which authorizes whale hunting when conducted in compliance with a research permit issued by a signatory. Cetacean has such a permit from Japan. Nonetheless, it has been hounded on the high seas for years by a group calling itself Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its eccentric founder, Paul Watson.
In December the court of appeals ruled that Sea Shepherd is prohibited from physically attacking, or approaching within 500 yards of any Institute of Cetacean Research vessel, overturning an earlier ruling that denied the Institute’s initial request for an injunction on the grounds that it would not succeed in trial.
Of course, the injunction has had little impact as far as Sea Shepherd’s most recent campaign goes, called Operation Zero Tolerance, due to questions over jurisdiction. Both sides have so far clashed, not to mention collided, several times over the last few weeks. gCaptain’s full coverage of the antics can be found HERE.
Here are a few more excerpts from the court documents from Monday:
The UNCLOS defines “piracy” as “illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship . . . and directed . . . on the high seas, against another ship . . . or against persons or property on board such ship.
Ramming ships, fouling propellers and hurling fiery and acid-filled projectiles easily qualify as violent activities, even if they could somehow be directed only at inanimate objects.
Regardless, Sea Shepherd’s acts fit even the district court’s constricted definition. The projectiles directly endanger Cetacean’s crew, as the district court itself recognized. And damaging Cetacean’s ships could cause them to sink or become stranded in glacier-filled, Antarctic waters, jeopardizing the safety of the crew.
The activities that Cetacean alleges Sea Shepherd has engaged in are clear instances of violent acts for private ends, the very embodiment of piracy. The district court erred in dismissing Cetacean’s piracy claims.
In his dissent, Circuit Judge M. Smith commented:
Even if one believes it is barbaric to harvest whales for any purpose at the beginning of the 21st century, as practiced by Cetacean, it is clearly permitted under international law.
…The Sea Shepherds are pirates. Period.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has previously said that they would take the case to the Supreme Court, but Monday’s ruling pretty much guarantees that it won’t get far.
Note: We should also point out that as of a few days ago, a military icebreaker with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force has been spotted with the whale researchers fleet. For the sake of safety, hopefully the Sea Shepherd fleet has hightailed itself out of there.
gCaptain Forum discussion HERE