Japanese Whalers and Sea Shepherd Face Off in Seattle Court Today

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Thursday, 16 Feb 2012
In a court case laced with irony, a Portland based environmental law firm, Miller Nash – hired by Japanese whalers in an attempt to stop the Sea Shepherd vessels from interfering with the illegal whaling activities that take place annually in the Southern Ocean – will square off today with the highly regarded international and maritime legal specialists of Seattle’s  Harris and Moure.
It is not often when an environmental firm such as Miller Nash’s represents illegal corporate interests – especially corporate interests which illegally slaughter whales  (most of the slaughtered females are pregnant) in a sanctuary in the far southern reaches of the planet.

Whales never harm us. Roger Munns photo

From a previous post:

“The Institute of Cetacean Research and Kyodo Senpaku are seeking a court order in the U.S. 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.” (Japan Times)
Sea Shepherd is not too concerned about the lawsuit:
This seems like a frivolous lawsuit to me,” said Captain Watson. “We have the images of the Japanese whalers destroying one of our ships, ramming our ships, running over our crew, firing upon us, throwing concussion grenades, deploying acoustical weapons, hitting us with water cannons and bamboo spears and they are suing us because they are accusing us of violence towards them. We have not rammed them and we have not caused a single injury nor have we been charged with a crime or even reprimanded by anyone for our actions. We have cooperated with every inquiry. They have not. This is simply a case of using the courts to harass us. I don’t believe they have a case and I doubt a U.S. court would take this seriously. Unlike Japan, the courts in the United States don’t automatically do what the government demands that they do.”
“An American law firm defending Japanese outlaw whalers from American whale defenders seems to be very un-American,” they add. “It is most certainly inhumane and disgracefully insensitive to the agonizing, cruel death inflicted upon these highly sensitive, intelligent, and socially complex, sentient victims of their ruthless clients.” (ecorazzi)

Harris and Moure have prepared a thorough defense and are seeking to have the case dismissed:

The following are highlights from the motion to dismiss (‘plaintiff’ refers to the Japanese consortium):

This dispute is improperly before the Court. Plaintiffs seek to prevent Defendants from
engaging in lawful activities to protect threatened and endangered whales in the Southern Ocean
Whale Sanctuary. Plaintiffs’ Complaint purports to create causes of action where none exist, seeks protection under treaties not meant to protect Plaintiffs, and asks this Court to further Plaintiffs’ illegal whaling activities. For these reasons and for the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs’ Complaint should be dismissed.

-Though Sea Shepherd maintains an office in Friday Harbor, Washington, the alleged
activities of which Plaintiffs complain occurred in Australia, Japan and the Southern Ocean.
Planning for these Antarctic whale defense campaigns takes place on the vessels themselves, either
at port in Australia, or while at sea.

Defendants have never injured anyone, and Plaintiffs have not produced a single document to
substantiate their allegations of injury, despite Defendants’ multiple requests that they do so.

I’ll keep you posted…

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