In December, Sea Shepherd unveiled their latest ship, the SSS Sam Simon, which last week was used to locate the Japanese whaling fleet’s refueling tanker and prevent it from reaching the whalers. Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

In December, Sea Shepherd unveiled their latest ship, the SSS Sam Simon, which last week was used sever the whalers’ fuel supply. Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the environmental group best known for their extreme and often controversial tactics used in the fight against Japan’s whaling fleet, said today that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to lift an injunction barring it from harassing the Japanese whalers.

gCaptain reported in December that the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the anti-whaling non profit is prohibited from physically attacking, or approaching within 500 yards of any Institute of Cetacean Research vessels navigating on the open sea. The ruling overturned a March 2012 ruling from U.S. District Judge Richard Jones in Seattle, who denied the Institute’s initial request for an injunction on the grounds that it would not succeed in trial.

During a National Press Club briefing, Charles Moore, the attorney representing Sea Shepherd, said that the three-sentence injunction issued in December surprised the group because it was issued without warning or a chance to argue in front of the judges and without being requested by Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research.

The injunction has had little impact as far as Sea Shepherd’s most recent campaign, called Operation Zero Tolerance, as it applies only to Sea Shepherd U.S., where as ‘Zero Tolerance’ is technically under Sea Shepherd Australia, a separate entity. But the injunction did name Sea Shepherd’s founder, Paul Watson, which forced him to step down from his post as president of the society and has so far prevented him from participating in the Southern Ocean antics this season.

“All of these entities have picked up the mission,” said Scott West, an investigations operative for Sea Shepherd. “Sea Shepherd U.S. is complying with, albeit ridiculous, the injunction. … We’re not going to be in violation of federal law.”

What happens from here is anyone’s guess, so once again it looks like we’ll just have to stay tuned

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  • atsokan wilson

    I would say that comparing past year’s behavior with this year, the injunction did have an impact. In past years when the Sea Shepherd picked up tailing ships that relayed their position to the factory ship, Sea Shepherd used small boats to attack these trailing ships and attempt to foul their props. Though SS vessels have been followed this year, they have refrained from attacking the tailing vessels.

    In addition, if Sea Shepherd actually had faith in their legal theory that the injunction applies in only a very limited way such that Paul Watson can circumvent it by simply saying he is stepping aside and turning the campaign over to the AU branch, then why the need to appeal to the Supreme Court?

    Whatever your views on whaling, an injunction that orders a safe distance that these ships ought to already be maintaining on the open ocean anyway seems like a sound idea. An injunction that further prohibits an act like propfouling, which shouldn’t be done in the first place, should place no unnecessary burden on an environmental protest group. The rights of free speech and protest do not extend to attacking vessels on the high seas because you disagree with what they are doing.

  • atsokan wilson

    I posted the above comment once. What gives?

  • atsokan wilson

    Supreme Court application denied by Justice Kennedy.

  • joe

    Who cares what the Americans have imposed! They impose a lot of their rules on the rest of the world but don’t seem to want to follow any of the world’s laws.

    • atsokan wilson

      The American organization running the campaign seems to care enough to take it to the Supreme Court. If they thought their shell game had protected them from the jurisdiction of the court order, why appeal the ruling?

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