In a bizarre twist in the war between Japan’s whaling industry and the activist group Sea Shepherd, a court in the U.S. has granted an injunction to the Japanese fleet, restraining the environmental extremists from any attacks during this seasons hunt in the Southern Ocean. Paul Watson, the renown leader of Sea Shepherd, said the result was “astonishing,” after the decision was handed down from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
Alex Kozinski, the chief judge on the appeal to an injunction that was denied earlier this year, stated the ruling that Sea Shepherd, Watson, and anyone else representing them, were ordered to refrain from physically attacking any vessel operated by the Institute of Cetacean Research, the Japanese body that carries out Japan’s lethal whaling under the banner of scientific research.
The court’s order also stipulates that any person or vessel is prohibited from navigating in a way that would threaten the safety of the whaling fleet. Sea Shepherd is not to approach Japan’s ships any closer than 500 yards while at open sea. As Japan is currently engaged in a case against Sea Shepherd in Washington State, the group’s headquarters, this injunction is to stay in effect until a court there decides on its merits.
In his response, Watson rightly pointed out how complex such a ruling is, seeing as how Sea Shepherd’s fleet is made of ships registered in Australia and the Netherlands. He added that it was surprising a U.S. court could assume jurisdiction over non-U.S. ships when they are in international waters. According to Watson, Japan’s whaling fleet hasn’t yet departed on their hunt yet, instead leaving port and remaining in territorial waters. The Sea Shepherd captain believes the ships were just waiting for this court order before departing, but the injunction won’t stop the group from standing in the fleet’s way and preventing any whales from being killed.
[via WA Today]
Correction: December 19th, This article has been updated to state the correct name of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court chief judge is Alex Kozinski.