In one of the endless twists in the battle between the Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd , the Research institute that does the "research " to justify the scientific research claim made as the rationale for Japanese whaling is suing the anti whaling group Sea Shepherd.
The Japanese whaling group has asked a federal judge to freeze the assets of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and bar the environmentalists from "violently and dangerously attacking" ships engaged in "research whaling."
The Institute of Cetacean Research has filed a lawsuit in the United States to protect its research whaling vessels and crews against attacks by Sea Shepherd.
Critics of whaling claim the Institute of Cetacean Research is a cover for a planned, annual violation of international treaties to protect whales. The Japanese government issues the permits not for research, but to satisfy its people's taste for whale meat, the critics say. The Japanese ships harvest whales claiming the catch is for research purposes, conducted under a special permit granted by the Japanese government under Article 8 of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
The plaintiffs say the environmental group is violating the High Seas Convention by using direct action to prevent whaling.
As they say "Defendants have flouted these internationally recognized norms by intentionally and unlawfully interfering with plaintiffs' right to freedom of navigation. Among other things, defendants have
(2) launched acid-containing projectiles against plaintiffs' vessels and crew, causing injury and damage; (3) launched incendiary devices against the vessels and crew;
(4) rammed plaintiffs' vessels with their vessels; and
(5) navigated their vessels in a manner endangering plaintiffs' vessels and crew and resulting in collisions between vessels," according to the complaint.
The whaling group is seeking an injunction barring the Sea Shepherd from attacking any vessel or crew member or interfering with navigation of the whaling ships by approaching too close.
Sea Shepherd is based in Washington State.The court order is being sought in Seattle, Washington to prevent the Sea Shepherd and Paul Watson from engaging in any activities that could damage their vessels or injure their crew.The whaling takes place in the Southern Ocean in Antarctic waters
A spokesman for the Japanese whalers said "Sea Shepherd has made numerous attempts to foul ships’ propellers with ropes, potentially placing the crews and vessels in extreme danger. Last season’s research was cut short because of heightened concerns for the safety of the crews and vessels.
"The plaintiffs support the right to legitimate and peaceful forms of protest and demonstration, and the lawsuit makes no attempt to curtail this right. Instead it seeks to establish clear legal boundaries between legitimate/ peaceful protest and illegal/ violent sabotage."
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Paul Watson said he found it amusing the Japanese could ''destroy a vessel, shoot at us, toss concussion grenades at us, ram us and attempt to kill us and then they file a lawsuit against us.