A famed anti-whaling organization is suing Japanese whalers for allegedly ramming and heavily damaging one its boats as well as terrorizing its crews in other ways in 2010. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society filed a federal lawsuit against several parties in an Oregon court. The group seeks $3 million in damages with the civil litigation, a sum that would go toward replacing the boat it claims was irreparably damaged by the whalers.
According to the lawsuit, Sea Shepherd's high-speed boat was destroyed after a Japanese whaling ship brutally rammed the vessel and sliced it in half. Following the collision, the whalers reportedly failed to respond to the crew's May Day calls and shot them water from high-pressure cannons. Sea Shepherd claims that at least one crew member was injured in this attack. Additionally, the lawsuit accuses the whalers of blasting a shrill, loud noise with long range acoustic devices immediately prior to and during the ramming, which dangerously hampered communication between crew members on board the damaged craft.
The lawsuit names several Japanese parties as defendants in the federal suit, including the Institute of Cetacean Research and Kyodo Senpaku. Sea Shepherd noted that the incident was investigated by a government body in New Zealand, which found that the whaling ship "failed to take early and substantial action to keep clear" of the group's craft.
Almost two years after the incident, the defendants sued the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society through an Oregon law firm, arguing that the group had wrongfully interfered with its whaling efforts, which it contended were for scientific research. Sea Shepherd is known for disrupting and harassing whaling operations in efforts to hamper the international whaling industry.
In March of 2012, Sea Shepherd filed a counterclaim against the defendants for the destruction of its boat. The group also hopes to overturn an injunction prohibiting it from "physically attacking" or coming within 500 yards of any of the defendants' crafts.
Source: Oregon Live, "Portland lawsuit: Sea Shepherd takes new tack, suing Japanese whalers for ramming its vessel," Bryan Denson, Feb. 11, 2013