Byline: Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — A U.S. judge on Feb. 16 declined to immediately restrain the activities of a Washington state-based anti-whaling group.
Judge Richard Jones said he would issue a written ruling later, but that he is inclined to deny a request for a preliminary injunction made by Japanese whalers against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
The whalers — operating under the name “the Institute for Cetacean Research” — said the Sea Shepherd group has attacked their ships off Antarctica during the whaling season, and asked the judge to order them to stop. Some of the clashes have been shown on the “Whale Wars” reality TV show.
Sea Shepherd activists use stink bombs and other nonlethal means to interfere with the whalers. The group argues that its activities are supported by international law, that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction in the Southern Ocean and that it’s the whalers who have rammed its vessels.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Seattle on Dec. 8, the institute argued that the whalers are “entitled to be free from attack by what are essentially self-proclaimed pirates with a base in the state of Washington.”
Japan’s whaling fleet kills up to 1,000 whales a year, an allowed exception for claimed “research” under a ruling by the International Whaling Commission. Japan is permitted to hunt the animals as long as they are caught for research and not commercial purposes. Whale meat not used for study, however, is sold as food in Japan — which, critics said, is the real reason for the hunts.
Sea Shepherd president Paul Watson said in documents that his activists have never injured any whalers. He accused the whalers of attacking activists with concussion grenades, long-range acoustical devices, bamboo spears, heavy nuts and bolts, water cannons and prop foulers.