Federal judge denies anti-whaling injunction

A Seattle district court has denied a preliminary injunction in the case of The Institute for Cetacean Research vs. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Sea Shepherd said Monday.

This injunction was an attempt by the institute to halt immediately Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Judge Richard A. Jones made it quite clear that in addition to looking at Sea Shepherd’s activities in the Southern Ocean, the issue of whaling and its legality would indeed be at the heart of this case.

The judge acknowledged that Sea Shepherd is not a violent organization and does not intend to cause harm to anyone, Sea Shepherd said. Based on the declarations and videos submitted to the court Judge Jones declared “It is apparent to me the Sea Shepherd would prefer that people not get hurt. There is no evidence that they have ever done anything with the intention of hurting anyone.”

According to Sea Shepherd:

The court declared that it does have subject matter jurisdiction over this case based on the Alien Torte Statute and admiralty jurisdiction. The Alien Torte Statute allows non-U.S. citizens to file civil suits in U.S. federal courts for cases dealing with violations of international law. The court also expressed displeasure with the Japanese whalers for filing an injunction against Sea Shepherd while appearing to be themselves in violation of an injunction issued by the Australian Federal Court. This injunction prohibits the whalers from hunting whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary, which the institute is clearly in violation of.

Judge Jones asked the plaintiffs why they believed they should be able to ask another court for an injunction that benefits them, when they are clearly in violation of an injunction themselves. The plaintiff’s answer to this was that because the ships move they can’t confirm whether the whaling fleet is in Australian waters and therefore in violation of this injunction. As Sea Shepherd crews can attest, the Japanese whaling fleet has been in direct violation of this court ordered injunction issued in 2008 and have certainly killed whales within the Australian Marine Sanctuary.

Sea Shepherd has filed a motion to have the entire case dismissed from the U.S. court system on the grounds that this case should be resolved in either World Court, Australian Court or through diplomacy. The court requested more time to sort through the specific issues and arguments before ruling on this motion.

Judge Jones has made it evident that if this case does go to trial that the court will hear arguments on the legality of whaling. “The plaintiffs insist that I am not supposed to consider the legality or illegality of the whaling activities. In my assessment, I believe it would be inappropriate for me to consider the balance of hardships or the public interest without considering the environmental consequences in this case. Now, it is clear to me that a substantial portion of the world believes it is very much not in the public interest to continue killing whales in the Southern Ocean. It is also clear to me that the environmental harms, like the killing of hundreds of whales, are relevant in the balance of hardships. So please understand in this context I must consider this aspect of the facts,” said Judge Jones.

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