The US Supreme Court has rejected a plea from environmental activist group Sea Shepherd that asked to have an injunction from Japan’s whaling industry lifted, thus ending current restrictions on the group’s movement. A previous ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ordered Sea Shepherd, led by the infamous Paul Watson, to stay at least 500 meters away from Japan’s ship while they carry out their yearly hunt in the Southern Ocean.
The request to have the injunction lifted was denied by Justice Anthony Kennedy, although he did not provide an explanation for his decision. As Sea Shepherd has continued to try impeding the activities of Japan’s whalers in recent weeks, including locating the fleet’s refueling ship and attempting to block access, the Japanese industry filed a motion in the US this week that accused the activists of violating the order not to approach. Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research, it’s government-backed whaling organization, asked that Sea Shepherd be found in contempt of court after the Brigitte Bardot ship approached a whaling vessel on January 29th. Such a ruling from the US court could result in serious legal penalties.
Sea Shepherd is attempting to prove that it is not subject to the US court order, as this year’s campaign in being run by the group’s Australian organization and are sailing under Australian flags. While the groups is based in the state of Oregon, it argues that a US court has no jurisdiction over its actions that take place on the other side of the globe. Sea Shepherd is still claiming early success this year by pointing out that not a single whale has been killed at this point. The injunction from the Ninth Circuit court of appeals was first issued on December 17th, based on concerns for the safety of both sides while operating at sea after past instances of Sea Shepherd’s extremism, including ramming Japanese vessels with their own ships.[via Sky News]