World Economy

SSCS to Pay $2.55m to Japan Whalers

SSCS to Pay $2.55m to Japan WhalersSSCS to Pay $2.55m to Japan Whalers

A radical environmental group has agreed to pay $2.55 million to Japanese whalers for breaching a US court injunction to stay clear of their vessels in the Antarctic Ocean.

The United States-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) and former senior officials of the group last week agreed to pay the sum to resolve civil contempt charges against them in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, court documents showed, AFP reported.

The payment will go to the Institute of Cetacean Research and Kyodo Senpaku, the two main bodies behind Japan’s so-called “research” whaling program.

The Ninth Circuit’s injunction prohibited Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson and any person acting with them from physically attacking the vessels operated by the Japanese entities in the Southern Ocean or acting in a manner to endanger their navigation.

The preliminary injunction, issued in late 2012, also bans the defendants from coming within 500 yards (457 meters) of the vessels. But Sea Shepherd boats were involved in high-seas confrontations with the whalers in early 2013.

Japanese authorities have previously described methods used by Sea Shepherd -- such as blocking the Japanese ships’ propellers -- as “terrorism”.

In December 2014, the US court issued an opinion finding Sea Shepherd, Watson and others in “contempt of the injunction”.

Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) hailed the payment, saying in a statement that it hopes the move would lead to the “prevention of unreasonable hindrance to our research” for now and in the future.

Sea Shepherd legal counsel Claire Loebs Davis said in a statement that the group does not agree with the Ninth Circuit’s holding that it was in contempt. “But after more than two years of litigation, we are very pleased to be putting the contempt action behind us,” she said.