Japanese Whalers Sue In Seattle To Stop Sea Shepherd 'Harassment'

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A Sea Shepherd crew tangles with a Japanese whaling ship in Antarctic waters in 2011. Photo courtesy of Sea Shepherd hide caption

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SEATTLE – A federal judge in Seattle Thursday refused a request for protection made by Japanese whalers. The whalers were hoping to put a stop to almost daily harassment by an aggressive anti-whaling group based in western Washington.

U.S. federal district court judge Richard Jones did not give a reason for denying the request for a preliminary injunction. It would have prevented the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society from interfering with the Japanese whaling fleet.

Outside the courthouse, a spokesman for the whalers, Gavin Carter, expressed disappointment. "At the end of the day, you can't have lawlessness on the high seas. You can't have anarchy on the high seas," he said. "There has to be some structure under which ships can go about their legal business."

But Sea Shepherd's lawyer, Dan Harris argues whaling is not a legal business. "If a heroin dealer came to federal court and sought an injunction to be able to continue to sell their heroin in a particular neighborhood without interference from anyone, I have no doubt that the court would turn them down."

Harris has asked the court to throw out the Japanese case entirely for lack of jurisdiction. The judge has yet to rule on that motion.

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