The Ninth Circuit issued an opinion–perhaps rebuke is a better word–determining that the Sea Shepherd engaged in piracy against Japanese researchers who hunt whales in the Southern Ocean. The opening paragraph demonstrated some of the “tactics” the Sea Shepherd used to “hound” the whale researchers:
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.
Whale hunting is a controversial topic. The Ninth Circuit set aside the emotions about whale hunting to issue a well-reasoned opinion. Further, some of the language in the opinion demonstrates that the court was well aware that whaling is a “hot button” issue, which is why it focused on piracy. For instance, the court stated that “enjoining piracy sends no message about whaling; it sends the message that we will not tolerate piracy.” The Ninth Circuit also put the case into context very quickly, noting in the second paragraph that the Sea Shepherd was attacking researchers who were lawfully engaging in whale hunting in accordance with an international treaty signed by the United States, Japan, and many other nations.
Note: the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is featured on Animal Planet’s Whale Wars.