Japan whalers given Sea Shepherd injunction by US court

Screen image from video provided by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research showing a crew member on the Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru No 2 spraying water cannon towards Sea Shepherd Conservation Society activists aboard a rubber boat in Antarctic waters on 18 January 2012 There have been numerous clashes between the whalers and Sea Shepherd vessels in the past

Related Stories

A US court has ordered conservation group Sea Shepherd to stay at least 500 yards away from Japan's whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit banned the group from "physically attacking any vessel engaged by the plaintiffs".

The court was responding to an appeal by Japan's whalers, after an earlier case was rejected.

The injunction remains in force until the court formally rules on the appeal.

The ruling by the court also bans Sea Shepherd from "navigating in a manner that is likely to endanger the safe navigation" of any whaling vessel.

Whaling clashes

Every year, vessels from the US-based Sea Shepherd follow the Japanese whaling fleet south to try and disrupt its activities.

Numerous collisions, clashes and boardings have occurred in the past, with each side blaming the other for aggressive tactics.

The Legalities of Whaling

  • Objection - A country formally objects to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium, declaring itself exempt. Example: Norway
  • Scientific - A nation issues unilateral "scientific permits"; any IWC member can do this. Example: Japan
  • Indigenous (aka Aboriginal subsistence) - IWC grants permits to indigenous groups for subsistence food. Example: Alaskan Inupiat

The group was founded by Paul Watson, who is wanted by Interpol after skipping bail in Germany. He is accused of endangering the crew of a Costa Rican ship that was fishing for sharks in 2002.

He is currently on a Sea Shepherd vessel preparing to pursue the Japanese fleet.

Japan's fleet sails to the Antarctic in the autumn or winter each year, returning the following spring.

There has been a ban on commercial whaling for 25 years, but Japan catches about 1,000 whales each year in what it says is a scientific research programme.

Critics say it is commercial whaling in another guise. Australia and New Zealand are pursuing a legal case against Japan in international courts.

Last year Japan cut short its whaling season - a move attributed to the harassment by Sea Shepherd.

Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, which oversees whaling, welcome the court's move.

But Sea Shepherd vowed to continue its activities, questioning the legality of the ruling.

"It is a complex situation whereby a United States court is issuing an injunction against Dutch and Australian vessels carrying an international crew, operating out of Australia and New Zealand in international waters," it said in a statement on its website.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Asia stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage


  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world


  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop


  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show

Programmes

  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.