December 9, 2011
Japan Suing Sea Shepherd For Disrupting Whaling Activity
Japanese whaling authorities said on Friday that they were suing the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society group to try and stop it from interfering in the annual whale hunt.
This is the first move by Japan to attempt legal action against anti-whaling campaigners, who have used extreme methods against ships involved in the hunt.
"Today, Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha and the Institute of Cetacean Research along with research vessels' masters filed a lawsuit against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) and Paul Watson," they said in a statement.
"The Institute of Cetacean Research and Kyodo Senpaku are seeking a court order in the US 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."
Sea Shepherd regularly sends vessels to harass the whalers, and in previous years they have thrown stink bombs onto the decks of the Japanese fleet.
According to the statement, the whaling program was "greatly contributing to the advancement of scientific knowledge of whale resources in the Antarctic."
Commercial whaling has been banned under a 1986 International Whaling Commission agreement, but "lethal research" is still allowed.
Japan said whale hunts are needed to substantiate its view that there is a robust whale population in the world. However, it is no secret that the country sells its whale meat for consumption.
"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" of the program," it said.
Japan cut its whale hunt for the 2010 to 2011 season short by a month after catching just a fifth of its planned catch, blaming Sea Shepherd's interference as the reason for why.
Japan also said that it planned to use some of the public funds it gained for earthquake and tsunami reconstruction to help boost security for its whalers.
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