'Whale wars' lawsuit in Seattle federal court

Feb 16, 2012

A federal court hearing is scheduled for today in Seattle on a lawsuit filed by Japanese whale hunters against the Friday Harbor, Wash., based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Society President Paul Watson has led attacks shown on the "Whale Wars" reality TV show in which anti-whaling activists harass whaling ships.

The Oregonian reports the whaling group, Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, is represented by the Portland law firm Miller Nash. Sea Shepherd is represented by the Seattle firm Harris & Moure.

The whalers are seeking a court order against the activists while Sea Shepherd is asking U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones to dismiss the case.

According to the Oregonian: Court documents translated from Japanese carry accounts in whalers' own voices. In one, Tomoyuki Ogawa, captain of the Nisshin Maru whaling ship, describes an attack last year in which he says activists launched or threw glass bottles containing paint or butyric acid.

"A crew member could be blinded in such an attack," Ogawa said in an affidavit. "These attacks also cause fear in the crew, thus interfering with the prompt and accurate carrying out of orders."

Lawyers for the Sea Shepherd say the protesters' activities do not endanger whaling crews.