Institute of Cetacean Research sea shepherd

The Sea Shepherd vessel, Bob Barker (front), comes to collision distance from Japanese tanker Sun Laurel in the Antarctica, taken and released by the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) February 20, 2013. Credit REUTERS/The Institute of Cetacean Research/Handout

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says that they are once again in hot pursuit of the Japanese Institute for Cetacean Research fleet as they return to the Southern Ocean whaling grounds after retreating north earlier this month.

Sea Shepherd, which was recently labeled as nothing more than a gang of pirates by a U.S. appeals court, says that a tracking device they implanted on the whale researchers refueling tanker, the Sun Laurel, has indicated that the fleet is returning south to the whaling grounds with just a few days left in the whaling season.

“The Steve Irwin will follow the Bob Barker back to the Southern Ocean to intercept the whaling fleet,” Sea Shepherd said in a statement. “The Bob Barker has changed course and is once again in pursuit of the whaling fleet.”

So are we in for one more grand confrontation this season? We’re not sure, but we have the popcorn out.

As far as Sea Shepherd’s response to the piracy label, let’s just say they aren’t buying it and that fight isn’t over yet.

“Clearly, this is a bad decision by the Ninth Circuit Court, but not unexpected,” said Scott West, Director of Intelligence & Investigations for Sea Shepherd U.S. “But it’s an opinion; everyone has one. We happen to agree with Judge Jones’ (the original judge that ruled in favor of Sea Shepherd) very well articulated and reasoned opinion on the matter,” he stated.

“Beyond that, the vitriolic and grandstanding manner in which the Ninth Circuit rendered its opinion makes us seriously doubt their qualifications for making a just decision. This court is part of the problem, not the solution. Not only is there no room for such a biased and unprofessional legal opinion, they somehow have the audacity to throw a highly respected, honored judge — one of their own — under the bus in order to side with foreign interests. Is this a decision of an American court or have we somehow mistakenly landed in Japan?” West added.


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  • Person of Choler

    Could the Japanese government liven things up by issuing Letters of Marque and Reprisal, allowing adventurers to harass the Sea Shepherd folks?

    Get a TV crew to follow the action and you’d have a kick@$$ successor to The Deadliest Catch.

    • crickson

      Yeah, maybe they could call it… Whale Wars

  • Ronald (Fiji Islands)

    Japan needs to disquise its warships as a fishing trawlers to teach Sea Shepherd a great lesson…and also ensure weapons are fully loaded and locked to fire…no more water-fights with these guys!

    • JoeOvercoat

      There are a number of non-lethal devices, which should be familiar to any modern mariner that has been following piracy issues, that the poachers could use to neutralize the pirates.

      If any Navies get involved, they should start with intercepting the poachers. That would take the pirates out of the picture.

  • http://NONE PAUL

    The Japanese whaling ships need to start retaliating with more than a water cannon…say maybe a grenade launcher or something similar. If the Sea Shepard vessels continue to attack the Japanes fleet..lets see the Bob Barker settle to the bottom of the ocean.

    • Jerry

      Woohoo! Kick ass! You must be a real life bad ass, Paul.

      • bluenoser

        Yeah… I think if environmental activists and the Defence Industry could collaborate they could pull us out of this global economic recession. I’ve always said that environmental sustainability needs to be linked with economic prosperity!

        • bluenoser

          Seriously, I hope the defence industry reads this, this is a huge opportunity for the sale of weapons. If all out war begins in the south seas think of the money that can be made! And the only collateral damage will be some whales, and who cares about them anyway? (Paul doesn’t for one)

      • http://NONE PAUL


        • Jerry

          Why, Paul? Are you on board the whaling ships? How is this affecting you? Just curious.

    • Ben

      Not to take sides, but what the Japanese whaling ships need to do is stop killing whales for Japanese domestic consumption. The fact of what they are doing (to the whales) can not be ignored or whitewashed.

  • bluenoser

    What a long history of pirates exists around the world. The corporation is the modern Lettre of Marque. Maybe the Sea Shepard should become a corporation: Anything that increases profits is not only justified but legally required including: crazy stunts in dangerous waters to increase TV ratings, defending endangered species at any cost because it increases donations, putting volunteers lives endanger because it is cheaper than paying them and instituting safety procedures. THE BROTHERHOOD CONTINUES!!!

  • AnimuX

    What we have here is a whale hunt conducted during a global moratorium on commercial whaling, within the boundaries of an international whale sanctuary, while the international organization responsible for regulating whaling repeatedly calls upon Japan to stop killing whales. How is that not poaching?

    Not only did the 9th circuit ignore the history leading up to this conflict (like decades of regulatory violations by Japan’s whaling industry even before Sea Shepherd existed), but the court ignored U.S. foreign policy on the matter.

    The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling was signed in the USA in 1946. Commercial whaling is illegal in the USA. The U.S. government argued for, repeatedly voted for, and helped to establish the moratorium on commercial whaling. Ronald Reagan even enacted economic sanctions against Japan for the very same whaling program at the center of this court room debacle — as Japan’s actions were considered to be purposely diminishing the effectiveness of international conservation programs.

    Kozinski decided to expand the definition of ‘private ends’, as it related to piracy, to also include actions taken for an environmental cause — all while ignoring the ‘unclean hands’ of Japan’s whale poachers. However, ITLoS judges have specifically stated ‘private ends’ did not include political motivations or environmental protest.

    Kozinski also limited the scope of the court’s opinion to interference with ‘navigation’ while excluding the overall practice of whaling for which Japan’s whale poachers ‘navigated’ into the whale sanctuary to be in range of protected and endangered whales to kill in defiance of the International Whaling Commission.

    The whale poachers are effectively using U.S. courts to suppress protest against their poaching operation despite the fact that the U.S. government has officially opposed Japan’s ‘research whaling’ from the beginning. Japan is blatantly undermining international conventions and getting away with it.

    • JoeOvercoat

      Thank you for your insightful comment. I cannot agree with ramming ships, so I take exception to the activities of the Sea Shepard organization. But, that does not make the whalers angels, when they are anything but when they are poaching against international convention.

    • Norway sailor

      I think you need to get up to speed on your facts there!
      The UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, reaffirmed the provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, an agreement that permits whaling on the high seas, and explicitly rejected the efforts of anti-whaling nations to exclude whales from the list of resources open to sustainable use and development. Further, at both the 1997 and 2000 Conferences of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, more than half the countries present supported the controlled use of minke whales. Many fishing nations including Norway, China, Korea, Russia and Iceland, as well as many developing countries support the sustainable use of all marine resources (including whales) and research programs that provide for science based resource management decisions.
      Article VIII of the ICRW begins with the words “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Convention…” Further, both the moratorium and the Antarctic Sanctuary apply only to commercial whaling. Contrary to claims by Greenpeace, Japan’s whale research programs are not a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Nothing in the UNCLOS diminishes or restricts in any way, rights provided by the ICRW.
      It is important to understand that the treaty that established the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is a treaty designed specifically for the conservation of whales in order to make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry. It is not a treaty for the total protection of whales. It is a treaty whose purpose is to ensure the sustainable use of whale resources. Under Article VIII of this treaty, members of the IWC can issue permits for the taking of whales for research purposes. Japan’s research program is therefore perfectly legal. Such special permits have been used in the past by a number of countries including the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The suggestion that the United States impose sanctions on Japan for its take of 10 sperm whales from a population of over 2 million at the same time that it supports the take of more than 60 bowhead whales in Alaska from a truly endangered (IUCN red list) and drastically depleted population of 7,000 is absurd. Most American’s may not know it, but it is a fact that their Government supports the harvest of approximately the same amount of whale meat each year by Americans as the by-product resulting from Japan’s whale research programs.
      The Japanese are not te criminals,SeaShepard and co is.

      • AnimuX

        Japan annually kills endangered sei whales, endangered fin whales, vulnerable sperm whales, rare bryde’s whales, common minke whales (many from the vulnerable J-stock), and Antarctic minke whales (according to the IUCN this species may also be in decline).

        Not to mention up to 20,000 small cetaceans like dolphins, including rare beaked whales and a Dall’s porpoise slaughter called ‘clearly unsustainable’ by the IWC scientific committee.

        Article 65 of UNCLoS declares nations shall cooperate for the conservation of marine mammals — and particularly whales — through the appropriate international organization which in this case is the IWC. That’s the same International Whaling Commission that has prohibited commercial whaling since 1986, declared the Southern Ocean a whale sanctuary since 1994, and repeatedly called upon Japan to stop killing whales.

        Of course, Japan is no stranger to regulatory violations. Historically, Japan has ignored species protections and size limits, hunted out of season, hunted in off-limits areas, exceeded quotas, and even hired foreign poachers to illegally kill whales and smuggle the meat to Japan (pirate whaling).

        Japan’s current whale poaching is just a continuation of a long history of bad behavior. This is exactly why Australia has filed a case against Japan with the International Court of Justice.

  • Bruce

    Stop, buying all products from Japan,Do not travel to Japan Kept you money at home… Killing of whales for profit.. not right! Japan is not doing any”research” just eating $150.00 a lb meat. online?

  • Jog To Weather

    I agree with both of Animu X’s comments. I hope some of you
    other fellows will read them with an open mind. The IWC is
    a whaling industry organization who’s mission is to continue
    whaling. They realize that unregulated whaling will wipe out
    all the whales and put the whalers out of business. Hence yearly quotas and the Antartic Santuary. Japan, a IWC signatory has habitually violated their own rules with a “wink,
    wink” from most of the other signatories. Besides the Sea Sheperds no one else is stepping up to the plate to protect the Antarctic Santuary from Japan anually killing large numbers of whales for “science research”. The Sea Shepherds
    are an unapologetic environmental organization who doesn’t take
    no for an answer. Their unpaid vounteers are not being taken advantage and they are not pirates. I applaud their efforts.

  • Alan Yearwood

    NOTHING gives SS the right to take the law into their own hands and endanger lives and potentially the environment. While I agree that the harvesting of whales needs to stop I cannot agree that it should be stopped by any means necessary. Those who blindly defend the dangerous tactics of the SS need a course check.

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