SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A U.S. appeals judge ruled anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd's actions against Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean constitute piracy.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society should face an injunction after years of clashes at sea with the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research, Britain's The Guardian reported.
"You don't need a peg leg or an eye patch. When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be," Chief Judge Alex Kozinkski wrote.
Commercial whaling has been banned since 1986. The Japanese whalers take advantage of an International Whaling Commission rule that allows whales to be killed for scientific research with the meat then sold commercially, The Maritime Executive reported.
Meanwhile, the latest encounter between the two sides took place Monday when the institute said three Sea Shepherd ships struck a whaling ship during refueling, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
"In order to secure safety, the [institute's Nisshin Maru] decided to interrupt [its] refuelling procedure due to the extremely dangerous and foolhardy behavior of SS vessels," the institute said in a statement.
Sea Shepherd Director Bob Brown denied the institute's accounts.
"It is the factory ship that is closing in on the tanker," he said. "To get close to it, to get refuelled, and that's what Sea Shepherd is preventing. The factory ship is illegally whaling, the fuel ship is illegally in Antarctic waters with heavy fuel oil."