Sea Shepherd is headed back to the Southern Ocean … this time, in the courts.
Three decades ago, the International Whaling Commission prohibited all commercial whaling to prevent whales from being driven to extinction. But while pretending to comply, Japan has ignored this ban, slaughtering up to 1,000 whales each year, including endangered species, in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. Japan pretends this killing is legal because it is “researching” the whales, even as it profits from the sale of their flesh.
Sea Shepherd is the only organization to take direct action to stop the Japanese whalers.
From 2005 until 2012, we sent our ships to confront the whalers in the frigid Antarctic waters. Over seven years, our actions saved 3,651 whales from the Japanese harpoons.
Our success had its costs, as the Japanese whalers and their accomplices in the Japanese government brought every possible weapon to bear to try to stop us. Japanese officials lobbied the IRS to strip Sea Shepherd of its tax-exempt status as a nonprofit. They obtained an INTERPOL Red Notice against founder Paul Watson, and convinced Costa Rica to do the same, seeking to have him extradited to Japan, where he would be placed in shackles and put on trial for saving whales.
The whalers have also spent millions of dollars going after Sea Shepherd in U.S. courts.
In late 2012, the whalers convinced the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that we might be “pirates,” and persuaded the court to issue an injunction that banned us from continuing to interfere with their illegal hunt. Sea Shepherd is a law-abiding organization, so we complied and withdrew from the Southern Ocean whale defense campaigns. In our absence, global Sea Shepherd entities continued the campaigns, saving 1,716 whales between 2012 and 2014 in Operations Zero Tolerance and Relentless.
In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s “research” whaling is a sham, and declared this abhorrent practice illegal. The international court ordered Japan to stop issuing “research” permits allowing whales to be killed. For a short time, Japan complied, and for the first time in 25 years, Japan did not kill any whales in the Southern Ocean during the 2014-2015 season.
But now Japan has announced it will start killing again.
In December 2015, Japan launched a new 12-year program to kill another 4,000 whales in the Southern Ocean. By doing so, Japan will be defying both the international court and the Australian courts, which have ordered the killing to stop and fined the whalers $1 million for flouting their ruling.
So far, the whalers have used the U.S. courts to their advantage, first in getting an injunction against Sea Shepherd, and then in convincing the Ninth Circuit to find us in contempt of court because we failed to stop Operation Zero Tolerance from saving whales. Now it is our turn to use those same courts on behalf of the whales. The whalers have refused to appear in court in Australia. They have declared themselves beyond the jurisdiction of the international court. Likewise, it would normally be impossible to require them to stand trial in the United States. But since they chose to chase Sea Shepherd into Seattle, the whalers cannot escape jurisdiction there.
Sea Shepherd has thus turned the tables on the Japanese whalers, becoming the first and only group to sue them in the United States.
Sea Shepherd has asked the Seattle federal court to bar the whalers from engaging in piracy by using violent and dangerous tactics to defend their illegal commercial whaling. Sea Shepherd seeks to leverage the same power the whalers used against Sea Shepherd, by asking the U.S. courts to order them to stop employing violence to further the lawless, for-profit slaughter of whales.
Will Sea Shepherd “win” this battle? The truth is we will score an important victory just by fighting. Until now, the Japanese whalers have been able to operate in the shadows, fiercely protecting information about their unlawful activities. But through a trial, Sea Shepherd can force the Japanese whalers to share the secrets that they have so jealously guarded, exposing their illegal activities to public inspection.
The public pressure against the whalers is mounting. They have long been condemned by nations around the world, and now the international court and the Australian courts have declared their killing illegal. We need to keep up the pressure by making them face justice in front of a Seattle jury, and in the court of public opinion.
But litigation is expensive.
The Japanese whalers have a huge war chest to fight us in court, thanks to $29 million diverted from the funds that were supposed to help the Japanese people after the 2011 tsunami. They hope to bully us with their money and their lawyers, and to imprison Captain Watson to silence his powerful voice. We need your help to keep Paul free, and to keep up the fight against the whalers until they end their killing for good.
Where Your Contribution Goes
- Your contribution to Operation Ultimate Justice will help us to continue the “Whale Wars” in the courtroom. It will enable Sea Shepherd to turn the tables on the whalers, expose their illegal activities, and make them face justice in a Seattle courtroom.
- Your contribution will also help us defend against the baseless claims that the whalers continue to pursue against Sea Shepherd, including allegations that we have engaged in “piracy” and “terrorism” by seeking to halt their illegal whaling.
- Your contribution will help keep Paul Watson free, and ensure that his powerful voice continues to be heard on behalf of the world’s oceans.
Help us at #ultimatejustice and #freepaul.