Settlement setback for anti-whaling activists | News | DW | 23.08.2016
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Settlement setback for anti-whaling activists

Japanese whalers have claimed victory in a court settlement ending years of cat-and-mouse with the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling group. But the activists say the US court decision has narrow implications and vow to fight.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which wages a direct action campaign against whaling on the high seas, has agreed to refrain from hindering Japanese whaling activities under a US court-mediated settlement, two key players in Japan's commercial whaling industry said in a statement.

Under the settlement, Sea Shepherd is "permanently enjoined from physically attacking" Japanese whaling vessels and crew members, a statement by the Institute of Cetacean Research and Kyodo Senpaku, both whaling umbrella groups, said.

They are also prohibited "from navigating in a manner that is likely to endanger their safe navigation," the Tokyo-based institute said.

But Sea Shepherd said the US court settlement has a narrow jurisdiction that applies only to its US branch of operations.

"The ruling in the US courts affects only our US entity," the group's global chief executive Alex Cornelissen wrote in a statement. "Sea Shepherd Global and all other entities around the world, other than the USA, will continue to oppose the illegal Japanese whaling in the Antarctic."

Tierschutzorganisation Sea Sheppard

The settlement concluded a case brought before a US court by the Institute of Cetacean Research in 2011, which sought an injunction against attempts by Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd to hinder Japan's whaling program.

It added that its non-US branches would pursue its campaign of direct actions designed to deter commercial whaling.

The anti-whaling activists harass whalers with paint and stink bombs, ram their ships, and have snared ship propellers with ropes.

Using a loophole in an international whaling ban, Japan claims its whaling operation is for vital scientific research. But the country makes no secret that the marine mammal carcasses are sold for their meat, a delicacy in Japan.

In fact, Japan was forced to call off the 2014-2015 hunt after the United Nations' top court, the International Court of Justice, ruled in 2014 that its annual mission to the Antarctic was a commercial hunt masquerading as science.

The hunt resumed at the end of last year with the whaling fleet returning to Japan in March of this year after having killed at least 333 Minke whales in the Antarctic.

jar/jil (AFP, AP)

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