by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Causes
Tags: .
Photo: | Ady Gil skipper Pete Bethune points how he used a knife to rip the protective net and illegaly board the Shonan Maru No. 2

More details are starting to come to light over just how  Pete Bethune of the Sea Shepherd managed to get aboard a Japanese whaling vessel in the middle of the night.

To say it was risky is an understatement. Here’s the SSCS’s story of what happened:

“Captain Bethune left the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin on a Jet Ski driven by Larry Routledge of Great Britain. A third person on the Jet ski was Animal Planet cameraman Joe Quigley of Alaska.”

“The Jet ski lay in wait for the Shonan Maru #2 to approach. With the Japanese vessel making 14 knots through the water, Larry Routledge maneuvered the jet ski into position under the anti-boarding spikes along the port side of the Shonan Maru #2.”

“Captain Bethune made the jump. He slipped and fell into the sea and was twirled about in the wake of the whaling ship. The jet ski picked him up for a 2nd attempt. This time he succeeded and clamored onboard the whaling ship without being noticed. Captain Bethune then calmly walked across the deck up the stairs to the next deck and then up the ladder to the monkey deck above the bridge. He then sat there for an hour and a half undetected as he waited for sunrise so that the Steve Irwin could launch it’s helicopter to document his service of notice to the Captain of the Shonan Maru #2.”

“When the Sea Shepherd helicopter arrived, Captain Bethune calmly knocked on the bridge wing door. A crewmember opened the door and actually tried to shoo him away. When Captain Bethune did not move, the crewmember walked around him and looked over the side to see if there was a boat. Not seeing one, he looked bewildered as he walked past Captain Bethune, opened the door, re-entered the bridge and walked inside and closed the door. Captain Bethune then opened the door and entered the wheelhouse.”

Check out a video of Bethune entering the bridge below. Animal Planet execs must be salivating that this whole thing was captured on camera.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • ddpalmer

    So he damaged the ship to get onboard. Well there goes Prof. Rothwell’s staement of legality for his actions. He is now an admitted pirate by UNLOS Article 101 especially when you add in the request for $3 million.

    Serious mistakes by Mr. Bethune. I wonder who planned this cluster F? Unless the whalers and their bosses in Japan are just feeling kindly, his next port of call will be Japan.

    • Dgredy

      you are an idiot.

    • ddpalmer

      Well Dgredy, I don’t know what yor basis for the statment is. But apparently an Australian legal expert agrees with me.

      “The money makes the difference. In presenting a demand for $3 million to the captain of the Japanese vessel to replace the Ady Gil, which was destroyed following a collision with the Shonan Maru, the Sea Shepherd members battling against the Japanese whalers have become pirates. Under the law of the sea, a pirate is defined as someone who commits an illegal act of violence for private ends (such as money) against another vessel on the high seas.”

      Natalie Klein is an associate professor at Macquarie Law School and the author of Dispute Settlement in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. She served as a member of the Sydney panel of international legal experts advising the International Fund for Animal Welfare on Australia’s dispute settlement options against Japan over whaling.

      You do know that Japan has a very high rate of conviction, “…in a criminal justice system that apparently has a 99.8 per cent conviction rate.” It looks like Mr. Bethune may have a long time to consider his actions while he sits in a Japanese prison.

      You may want to rethink your post.

      • billy jean is my lover

        ddpalmer, you purport the most ludicrous statements I’ve ever read. Pro-whaling puppet.

      • Valerie Vomit

        Perhaps they should wear eye patches and have birds on their shoulders? Seriously ddpalmer, when did your brain hit the skids?

        Japans high conviction rate is because Japan isn’t really a true democracy. Look at the Tokyo two. They exposed corruption and end up facing 10 years jail. It just shows how deep, evil and corrupt this whaling thing has become. Selfish national pride is causing great damage to Japans international reputation.

      • Gavin MacQueen

        “Under the law of the sea, a pirate is defined as someone who commits an illegal act of violence for private ends (such as money) against another vessel on the high seas.”

        I guess that makes the SM2 captain guilty since he intentionally rammed the Ady Gil. “An act of violence for private ends”

        “You do know that Japan has a very high rate of conviction, “…in a criminal justice system that apparently has a 99.8 per cent conviction rate.”

        True, mainly because they are very good at choosing their battles. In other words, if they don’t think they have a good case against Bethune, then you probably won’t see the japanese pursue a case against them. Which is most likely what will happen in light of the SM2 intentionally ramming the Ady Gil.

        So, ddpalmer might want to rethink his post…

      • Mark G

        Since the Japanese whaling fleet claim to be research vessels and not commercial whalers, then the act of boarding does not interfere with Japanese commerce. If the Japanese are saying it’s a commercial vessel for profit, then they are admitting they’re in violation of international law, that they’ve been lying to the International Whaling Commission and the rest of the world for many years, and admitting they’re in violation of the international commercial whaling ban. Is there proof that Captain Bethune demanded $3 million, or did he attempt to make a citizens arrest for the illegal ramming of his $3 mil boat?

    • come si come sa

      ddpalmer, I thought you would be the first pro-whaler on the scene with a nonsense post. You are living up to expectations. Tool. And in a timely fashion, the ginza Glenn Inwood puppets start posting too (Kimitake).

      Since you support the whalers who are engaged in acts of violence (Ship ramming, firing LRAD etc) who are criminals, you also would be classed as a terrorist and a criminal.

      You should be sent to prison for life.

  • Michael d’Estries

    He didn’t damage the ship as to compromise its safety, so he appears to still be within the guidelines stated by Prof. Rothwell.

    “Donald Rothwell, a professor of international and maritime law at the Australian National University, said Bethune’s actions would only be considered illegal if he had planned to harm the crew or jeopardise the safety of their ship.”

  • ddpalmer

    But the Japanese can easliy argue that beside keeping people off the ship the netting also keeps anyone on the ship from falling overboard in rough seas making the netting a safety issue. I don’t believe that is what it was for but it is an argument that can be made and it would come down to what a judge or jury believed, very hard to predict.

    But the point is they could make that argument which would give them a belief that he committed piracy which would allow them to hold him until they return to Japan.

    • no maru is a good maru

      Incorrect ddpalmer.

      The Japanese are whale poachers. They should be rounded up, arrested and jailed. Whaling should be shut down.

  • Michael d'Estries

    @ddpalmer: Absolutely. They could definitely argue that point. But, like you, I agree that it would be a weak one. Seems to me that such damage could be easily repaired, but that’s just an assumption.

    Should be interesting to see where this goes. You can bet the SS counted on his detainment being something of a quandary for the Japanese.

    • Mick

      The news in Japan is reporting that bethune will be held on board until the fleet returns to Japan. At which time he will be charged.

      As to the legalities involved, it seems to me there are many different avenues for him to be prosecuted.

      UNCLOS states:

      Article 92. Status of ships

      1. Ships shall sail under the flag of one State only and, save in exceptional cases expressly provided for in international treaties or in this Convention, shall be subject to its exclusive jurisdiction on the high seas. A ship may not change its flag during a voyage or while in a port of call, save in the case of a real transfer of ownership or change of registry.

      2. A ship which sails under the flags of two or more States, using them according to convenience, may not claim any of the nationalities in question with respect to any other State, and may be assimilated to a ship without nationality.

      It appears the SS ship Bob Barker has clearly broken this law by flying the Norwegian flag. I believe a “ship without nationality” is considered a pirate vessel.


      Article 101. Definition of piracy

      Piracy consists of any of the following acts:

      (a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depreda tion, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

      (i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or air-craft;

      (ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;

      (b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;

      (c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act des cribed in subparagraph (a) or (b).

      It clearly states; “any illegal acts of violence”, “any act of voluntary participation ” and “any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating…”.

      It would appear that the definition of piracy applies to both SS and bethune.

      However, it remains to be seen what actions are taken.

    • Kimitake Hiraoka

      Mick, you’ve missed the blatantly obvious.

      This Pete Bethune character has been engaged in acts of violence for weeks. He has been directly involved in the trailing of entanglement ropes, the throwing of acid bottles, and the shining of weapons-grade lasers. And now an unauthorised boarding.

      He is guilty as sin and is a danger to society. He should face trial for his terrorist actions in front of a military tribunal.

      • billy jean is my lover

        Kimitake? Are you for real? Do you beleive what you actually are posting?

        Sounds like a comedy sketch. Acts of violence? lol yeah he’s a dangerous man!!!!

      • no maru is a good maru

        Here we go. Pro-whaling puppets are hard at work as usual. If Japan prosecutes Pete Bethune, he will become the political prisoner of a tyrannical government that has even violated the basic human rights of its own citizens (remember the Tokyo Two?) in order to support the Whaling industry. Not to mention the fact that the captain of the ship that Pete boarded, Shonan Maru 2, is the same man who rammed and destroyed his vessel, Ady Gil, nearly killing Bethune and 5 members of his crew. If anything, the captain and crew of the Shonan Maru 2 should be apprehended and charged by New Zealand authorities for attempted murder!

        As for the flawed concept that Japan is doing “legal” research in the Southern Ocean:

        The first time Japan used Article VIII to justify whaling was in 1976. The IWC had just set the catch quota for Bryde’s whales to zero for purposes of conservation. Japan responded by issuing itself a science permit and proceeded to kill over 200 Bryde’s whales that season. Afterwards the IWC passed resolutions requiring any future use of Article VIII to be first evaluated by the IWC scientific committee.

        In the mid 70s and 80s Japan and other embattled whaling nations (including the Soviet Union) fought the establishment of a global moratorium (despite the fact that the UN had passed a resolution in 1972 declaring a 10 year moratorium should be enacted). After a series of votes a moratorium was passed in 1982 and went into effect in the 85/86 season but Japan objected to it officially and continued to take whales under objection. This is normal under the rules of the ICRW (International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling).

        The United States threatened Japan with economic sanctions including loss of access to Alaskan fisheries worth over $400 million USD. In negotiations, Japan agreed that it would stop commercial whaling by 1988 for access to these fisheries. However, Japan was busy preparing and presenting plans for “scientific research” to the IWC scientific committee.

        The committee rejected the research proposals (submitted before 1988). And despite this, in the 87/88 season Japan started its research whaling program JARPA. Due to pressure from US fishermen and environmental groups Japan lost access to US Alaskan resources anyway in 1988. US President Ronald Reagan declared Japan was in violation of IWC regulations and officially sanctioned Japan under the Packwood-Magnuson Amendment in 1988 as well.

        Since then, the IWC has almost annually issued resolutions, passed by majority, against Japan’s lethal research methods. Unfortunately, due to the lack of political will to take on Japan over whales and the lack of any punitive mechanism in the ICRW there has been nothing more than talk out of world governments.

        Historically, Japan has violated whaling regulations such as size limits, species limits, gender limits, seasonal limits, sanctuary boundaries, and even supported “pirate whaling” (killing whales in secret around the world through front companies with foreign labor to smuggle meat back to Japan without reporting to the IWC).

        Does any of this look like important legal science? Does it really look like Japan is honoring international conventions in good faith? The Australian Federal Court didn’t think so and it recently ruled that Japanese whaling in the Australian Antarctic Territory EEZ is illegal. Pete Bethune should be free and exonerated of any charges. The Japanese whaling industry should be shut down and the Shonan Maru 2 captain, the real pirate, should be arrested and put on trial. How can he get away with such violent criminal acts???

  • Kimitake Hiraoka

    Don Rothwell always has an interesting take on international law when it comes to Sea Shepherd. For instance, when Sea Shepherd rams vessels, throws acid at their crews and shines weapons-grade lasers at them to blind them, he claims that they are “operating at the edge of the law”.

    Now that a Sea Shepherd thug has again boarded a foreign vessel, he claims that it isn’t illegal if he didn’t plan to harm the crew or jeopardise the safety of the ship. In other words, it is OK for anyone to jump on board any ship at any time provided they don’t intend to inflict damage.

    How this imbecile managed to get a job at the Australian National University is beyond me. He should be dismissed for jeopardising the good name of that institution. He already acts as a de facto spokesman for Sea Shepherd, I’m sure they’d be happy to add him to their enormous payroll.

    • animal.lover

      Actually, I just saw another article where he says that while Mr. Bethune’s actions may not amount to piracy (contrary to Professor Klein’s position), he could be charged for various other crimes under Japanese law. He discusses the boarding of the ship as violating Japanese law and the other activities while skipper of the Ady Gil (prior to the “collision” or “attempted murder,” depending on your side) violating other international maritime law. Specifically, he says the other activities they may amount to maritime terrorism.

      That the alleged “terrorism” occurred prior to the destruction of the Ady Gil will make it difficult for him. In other words, even if the Japanese captain were guilty of “attempted murder”, it doesn’t mean that any of Mr. Bethune’s crimes are justifiable under the law. Moreover, if the Ady Gil was guilty of terrorizing the security ship, it would be hard for them to argue that it is justified because the whaling is illegal as the security ship was not whaling.

      I am not taking sides and am not a lawyer. I actually hope they reach a diplomatic resolution. The whole situation is unfortunate.

    • Jennifer

      I really don’t have much to say about your ridiculous opinions accept this: have you ever seen a “thug”? Do you know what a “thug” is by definition?

      1. a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.
      2. one of a former group of professional robbers and murderers in India who strangled their victims.

      Based on the definition, I’d hardly say any member of SS is a “thug”. The whalers on the other hand, would fit this definition perfectly.

      • agent orange


        This is just standard boilerplate text from the PR puppets from the ICR. They just rehash the same propaganda over and over again. I guess they are hoping people will eventually believe them right? Reminds me of what the Fuher used to do.

  • Poacher News

    Help Captain Peter Bethune. Sign the “Free Sea Shepherd Captain Peter Bethune” Petition.

  • J. McG

    Sea Shepherds are a bunch of idiots with no real thing to do… I had been a supporter from California until I saw their tactics on TV, I regret donating and helping them.. They are indeed eco-terrorists.

    • agent orange

      Well get lost then J Mcg, your post/opinion is not of any use.

  • Halli

    Pete Bethune did not damage anything of thhe whalers’ property. If he did he would have been charged with piracy and he was not. He was charged with interfearence of Japanese commerse which if they admit it is commerse then it is actually considered commercial. Free Captain Pete!!!!

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