U.S. Court Rules That Sea Shepherd Activists Are Pirates

By MarEx 2013-02-27 11:37:00

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has announced their official ruling in the case of the Institute of Cetacean Research and the Japanese whalers versus Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its leader, Paul Watson.

In the published opinion, Chief Judge Kozinski stated: “You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch. 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, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.”

He continued: “Plaintiffs-Appellants (collectively, “Cetacean”) are Japanese researchers who hunt whales in the Southern Ocean. The United States, Japan and many other nations are signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling art, which authorizes whale hunting when conducted in compliance with a research permit issued by a signatory. Cetacean has such a permit from Japan. Nonetheless, it has been hounded on the high seas for years by a group calling itself Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its eccentric founder, Paul Watson (collectively “Sea Shepherd”).”

The UNCLOS defines “piracy” as “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.”

Below are further excerpts from the court’s ruling:

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.

The activities that Cetacean alleges Sea Shepherd has engaged in are clear instances of violent acts for private ends, the very embodiment of piracy. The district court erred in dismissing Cetacean’s piracy claims.

The Sea Shepherds are pirates. Period. No district judge could fail to grasp the clarity and firmness of our opinion.

View the official court documents here and here.