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Off to Court We Go – Again!

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson


The United States Supreme Court Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The battle to save life and diversity in our Ocean carries on in the courtrooms and upon the high seas.

Sea Shepherd USA complied with a federal injunction and Federal Appeals Court. Commissioner Peter Shaw rendered a decision that Sea Shepherd, its directors and myself were not guilty of violating the injunction after more than a week of hearing and reviewing witnesses; that was in February 2014. A year later, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court reversed Commissioner Shaw’s decision, just as they reversed Seattle Judge Richard Jones’ decision to not grant Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research the injunction. Judge Jones cited the fact that the Japanese whalers had unclean hands because they were in contempt of an Australian Federal Court order barring whaling by Japanese ships within the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory.

In 2014 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Japanese “scientific” whaling in the Southern Ocean under JARPA II was not legal. This year, the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission rejected Japan’s new “revised scientific whaling” proposal on the grounds that it was essentially the same thing that the ICJ had already condemned.

It seems that the only friends that the Japanese whalers have is the 9th Circuit U.S. Federal Court.

Sea Shepherd is now filing a petition to the United States Supreme Court to challenge the decision by the 9th Circuit Panel.

What the 9th Circuit has done is to set a dangerous precedent that could impact every American NGO and corporation. The ruling says that any non-American can challenge the activities of a U.S. company that is associated with activities by a foreign business partner outside the United States.

The injunction was issued in December 2012 against Sea Shepherd USA and Sea Shepherd USA complied with the court order. The 9th Circuit is stating that Sea Shepherd USA should have stopped Sea Shepherd Australia from interfering with illegal Japanese whaling operations. What the court rejected is Sea Shepherd USA’s position that Sea Shepherd USA does not have any control over the actions of Sea Shepherd Australia using Dutch-registered ships with non-American officers in the waters of Australia.

The struggle for justice for the whales of the Southern Ocean continues.

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