U.S. Ninth Circuit Court Panel To Hear Appeal From Japan's ICR Against Sea Shepherd

Hearing to Take Place Tomorrow Morning in Seattle

Steve Irwin Circling the YushinSteve Irwin Circling the Yushin
File Photo
A panel for the United States Court for the Ninth Circuit will hear an appeal brought forth by Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) against international marine conservation organization, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, tomorrow morning in Seattle. The appeal comes as a result of ICR’s loss of a preliminary injunction they brought against Sea Shepherd in February of this year to try and prevent the organization’s whale-defense fleet from protecting whales in Antarctica this December.

The ICR lawsuit is funded by a Japanese government subsidy of some $30 million USD in Tsunami Relief Funds donated to aid the victims of the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear crisis, not to hunt whales. By using the reprehensible strategy of attacking a bonafide 501(c)(3) charity, the Japanese government’s aim is to make it economically unfeasible for Sea Shepherd to continue its activities on behalf of the whales. The lawsuit is part of a larger strategy by Japan’s ICR to curtail Sea Shepherd’s interventions to defend at-risk whales in the established Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. As a result of this plan, Sea Shepherd founder and president Captain Paul Watson has been in an undisclosed location since July 22nd to avoid answering to trumped up charges Japan is claiming in order to extradite him to their country for trial.

The plaintiff claims in this case are that Sea Shepherd is engaging in ‘unsafe’ and ‘violent’ activities. They also have claimed injuries to their crew, although they have not been able to produce any medical evidence confirming their claims. Meanwhile, ICR ships have rammed and damaged Sea Shepherd ships, in one case completely destroying a $1.5 million dollar vessel, injuring a cameraman and nearly drowning six crewmembers and have not so much as even been questioned. Sea Shepherd has been engaging in interventions on the high seas in defense of marine wildlife for 35 years in various parts of the world and for eight years against the ICR, all without causing serious injury.

“It is Sea Shepherd’s position the ICR is not entitled to any relief due to the simple fact that their killing of whales is illegal, being carried out under the guise of ‘research’ in flagrant disregard of the global moratorium on whaling in the established Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” says Susan Hartland, Administrative Director of Sea Shepherd.

In January 2008, a federal court in Australia ruled the whaling to be illegal and issued an injunction against the whalers, but the whalers continue killing in violation of that court order. Each December, Sea Shepherd journeys to Antarctica to defend whales from being killed by Japanese whalers inside a marine sanctuary. During the past eight campaigns, Sea Shepherd has saved the lives of more than 3,600 whales and exposed illegal Japanese whaling activities to the world.

While it is possible the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court panel will make a ruling at the time of the hearing, it may take days or weeks to issue a decision.

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