Today, Japan whaling officials announced that they are bringing a lawsuit in the United States against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its founder Captain Paul Watson.
According to Japan Today, ship owner Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha and the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) have filed the suit in an attempt to stop the organization’s anti-whaling campaign. In a statement, they said “The Institute of Cetacean Research and Kyodo Senpaku are seeking a court order in the U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington that prevents SSCS and its founder Paul Watson from engaging in activities at sea that could cause injuries to the crews and damage to the vessels.” The statement also claimed their whaling program is “greatly contributing to the advancement of scientific knowledge of whale resources in the Antarctic.”
While the ICR claims “the activities perpetrated by SSCS and Paul Watson not only put at risk the safety of the research vessels at sea but are also affecting the scientific achievement,” Sea Shepherd maintains that their interventions are nonviolent and they will continue to oppose illegal whaling in a whale sanctuary. In a statement on the organization’s website, they state “In an act of desperation, the Japanese whalers armed with a war chest of some $US30 million allocated by the Japanese government from the tsunami earthquake relief fund are throwing a great deal of muscle into their efforts to stop the Sea Shepherd ships from saving whales this season.”
Watson is optimistic about the lawsuit, which he calls “frivolous,” and maintains that his crew has never been violent toward the whalers. The captain said, “We have the images of the Japanese whalers destroying one of our ships, ramming our ships, running over our crew, firing upon us, throwing concussion grenades, deploying acoustical weapons, hitting us with water cannons and bamboo spears and they are suing us because they are accusing us of violence towards them. We have not rammed them and we have not caused a single injury nor have we been charged with a crime or even reprimanded by anyone for our actions. We have cooperated with every inquiry. They have not. This is simply a case of using the courts to harass us. I don’t believe they have a case and I doubt a U.S. court would take this seriously. Unlike Japan, the courts in the United States don’t automatically do what the government demands that they do.”
As Sea Shepherd prepares for their next voyage to Antarctica, Operation Divine Wind, Watson is thinking not of lawsuits but of the whales they will be defending once again. “Our entire focus for the next three months will be on preventing the ruthless and illegal slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We will not be deterred by force, by lawsuits, by bureaucrats, by critics or by any government. We act non-violently within the boundaries of the law and we save whales from a criminal operation in a whale sanctuary. All this muscle is simply the last gasp of a dying, ecologically destructive and ruthless industry. Sea Shepherd will never abandon the whales of the Southern Ocean no matter how heavy handed the Japanese whalers become. The only way they will stop us is to kill us and they may be just desperate enough to do just that.”