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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