Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Hands Down Ruling in Favor of Japanese Whale Poachers

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Sea Shepherd U.S. Calls Ruling a “Bad Decision,”

Says ICR Are Pirates of Greed Getting Away with Murder

FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. — February 27, 2013 — In response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in a preliminary injunction hearing against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society U.S. as brought by Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) — a government-subsidized front for commercial whaling — the global marine conservation nonprofit calls the ruling a “bad decision,” but says the gavel hasn’t come down quite yet. A ruling from a pending trial and other legal actions are yet to come. Meanwhile, the group says Japan’s whale-poaching pirates of greed are literally getting away with murder — the murder of whales.

The SSS Bob Barker in the Southern Ocean Photo: Billy Danger / Sea Shepherd

The SSS Bob Barker in the Southern Ocean
Photo: Billy Danger / Sea Shepherd

Moreover, Sea Shepherd has called for the case to be reviewed again before an eleven-judge Ninth Circuit Court panel. The Ninth Circuit Court issued a temporary injunction in December in favor of the Japanese whale-poaching fleet and against Sea Shepherd U.S.’s activities in the Southern Ocean, overturning a decision by the Honorable District Court Judge Richard A. Jones in March of last year. At the time, the temporary injunction was issued with no opinion whatsoever. The opinion was finally issued late Monday and ignored the well-reasoned ruling in Sea Shepherd’s favor by Judge Jones.

In this most recent ruling, the Ninth Circuit called Sea Shepherd “pirates,” but it is indeed the whale poachers who are the real pirates in this scenario — pirates of greed and murder. At a press conference at the National Press Club earlier this month, iconic Environmental Attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. echoed that sentiment about the ICR:

“…The Institute for Cetacean Research, which is an arm of the Japanese government, is really a pirate organization masquerading as a scientific research group. … If you are violating international law on the high seas, you are a pirate,” he added.

“And we have in our country a long and proud history of battling piracy on the high seas, beginning in 1805 when Thomas Jefferson sent the marines to Tripoli to subdue the Barbary Pirates. And we ought to be, not trying to impede Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd, but we should be issuing him letters of marque in order to support and recognize the important value of his activities to our country and to the world community in battling a pirate organization that is in violation of international laws. He is performing a profound public service for all of us and instead of recognizing him, the U.S. government, various agencies of the U.S. government, have attempted to impede him,” Kennedy, Jr. said.

Letters of marque were historically used by governments many years ago to seize genuine pirate ships. They were a government license authorizing a person (known as a privateer) to attack and capture enemy vessels and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale.

In addition, in a highly questionable and unprofessional move, the three-panel member of the Ninth Circuit Court called into question Judge Jones’ well-articulated ruling in which he said Sea Shepherd was acting in the public interest for the protection of wildlife and the Earth. He also reasoned further that the group’s activities amount to nothing more than low-level harassment. Still, clearly unconcerned with the plight of the planet, the Ninth Circuit made a rare and unwarranted decision that Jones should be removed from the case, with one of the three judges dissenting on that ruling.

“Clearly, this is a bad decision by the Ninth Circuit Court, but not unexpected,” said Scott West, Director of Intelligence & Investigations for Sea Shepherd U.S. “But it’s an opinion; everyone has one. We happen to agree with Judge Jones’ very well articulated and reasoned opinion on the matter,” he stated.

“Beyond that, the unprofessional and grandstanding manner in which the Ninth Circuit rendered its opinion makes us seriously doubt their qualifications for making a just decision. This court is part of the problem, not the solution. Not only is there no room for such a biased and unprofessional legal opinion, they somehow have the audacity to throw a highly respected, honored judge — one of their own — under the bus in order to side with foreign interests. Is this a decision of an American court or have we somehow mistakenly landed in Japan?” West added.

Sea Shepherd U.S. will continue to seek relief with regard to the injunction by going back to the full Ninth Circuit Court (En Banc) and a hand-picked judge of the U.S. Supreme Court. A first foray to the designated Supreme Court Justice was denied.

“We will continue to use the courts and the law to overturn these rulings,” said Charles Moure, Lead Counsel with Harris & Moure, Seattle, Wash. “We have a long, hard fight ahead of us but Judge Jones was correct when he said Sea Shepherd is working in the public interest for the greater good. Sea Shepherd has the court of public opinion on its side, backed by thousands of supporters worldwide, something the Japanese whale poachers will never have. The organization is prepared to take on these challenges, believing that in the end, justice will prevail and Judge Jones’ courageous opinion will become the law of the land,” he concluded.

 

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The ICR lawsuit is funded by a Japanese government subsidy of some $30 million USD in Tsunami Relief Funds donated to aid the victims of the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear crisis, not to hunt whales. It is part of a larger strategy by Japan’s ICR to curtail Sea Shepherd’s interventions to defend at-risk whales in the established Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. As a result of this plan, Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson is the target of two ‘red notices’ issued by Interpol put forth at the request of Costa Rica and Japan, which seek to extradite him to those nations for trial on trumped up, politically motivated charges related to defending marine wildlife from poachers.

Australia instituted proceedings against Japan in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on May 31, 2010 and was joined by New Zealand on November 21, 2012 with respect to a dispute concerning Japan’s JARPA II program on “scientific whaling.” It is expected the case will be heard later this year.

 

About Sea Shepherd Conservation Society U.S.

Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society U.S. is part of an international non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd U.S. uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems, Sea Shepherd U.S. works to ensure their survival for future generations. Visit www.seashepherd.org for more information.


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Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson

About the Author:

Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson is the founder and Editor of Beach Carolina Magazine. Living along the coast of North Carolina, Mike has a passion for the beach and loves to bring news and events of the Carolinas to others around the world.

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