And no not in the romanticized, like to drink, and wears eyepatches kind of way. In the our activities put people’s live and ships endanger on the high seas kind of way.
“When you ram ships, hurl glass containers of acid, drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders, launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate,”
That statement comes from Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit US court of Appeals about Sea Shepherd (SS). He overturned a lower court’s ruling against Japanese Whalers.
This was true “no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be,” he added in a ruling that dubbed SS founder Paul Watson “eccentric.”
At DSN, we have had a long tradition of being anti-SS. Kevin argued that their seamanship was at the best atrocious and at the worst endangering lives of crew. I posted that SS’s tactics make them pirates, terrorists, or a vigilante group. None of these are desirable, move whale conservation ahead, and are a waste of donor’s good will and money. As I mentioned in that post
Watson’s brand of truthiness is often criticized by other conservation organizations and conservationists. Even among organizations who have similar end goals, they are deemed destructive to the overall cause of conservation. Yet those opposing Watson’s acts, people often very committed to the ultimate cause, are demonized by the organization’s supporters. The general public is often turned off by this level extremism. Reducing your support, dividing your base, making enemies of your compatriots, and relying on blind faith is not effective conservation.
Back to the case at hand. You can see the official opinion here as pdf. The case is the
INSTITUTE OF CETACEAN RESEARCH, a Japanese research foundation; KYODO SENPAKU KAISHA, LTD., a Japanese corporation; TOMOYUKI OGAWA, an individual; TOSHIYUKI MIURA, an individual, Plaintiffs – Appellants,
SEA SHEPHERD CONSERVATION SOCIETY, an Oregon nonprofit corporation; PAUL WATSON, an individual, Defendants – Appellees.
As the judge notes “The United States, Japan and many other nations are signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling art. VIII, Dec. 2, 1946, 62 Stat. 1716, 161 U.N.T.S. 74, which authorizes whale hunting when conducted in compliance with a research permit issued by a signatory. [The plaintiffs have] such a permit from Japan.” So where the activities of the Institute of Cetacean Research are thinly guised as “research” and the killing of whales in this case is atrocious, these activities are not illegal as concerning the International Convention. The Institute of Cetacean Research is suing SS in the U.S. (even though SS ships are not allowed to fly U.S. flags the organization is still Oregon based) because “Sea Shepherd’s acts amount to piracy and violate international agreements regulating conduct on the high seas.”
As spelled out by UNCLOS, as well as the High Seas Convention, “piracy” is “illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship . . . and directed . . . on the high seas, against another ship . . . or against persons or property on board such ship.” Judge Kozinski spells out several reasons why the acts of Sea Shepherd are considered “violent” as interpreted by UNCLOS. He argues that the lower court took to narrow of definition and was opposed to those definitions set by UNCLOS. For example, violence can be directed toward people and/or ships and equipment. But of course even using the narrower definition of violence only against people still makes SS culpable.
Regardless, Sea Shepherd’s acts fit even the district court’s constricted definition. The projectiles directly endanger Cetacean’s crew, as the district court itself recognized. And damaging Cetacean’s ships could cause them to sink or become stranded in glacier-filled, Antarctic waters, jeopardizing the safety of the crew.
For this reason the Ninth Circuit US court of Appeals as put the injunction back in place, i.e. SS will refrain from doing harassing Institute of Cetacean Research ship.s