Conservationists file piracy claim against whalers

A conservationist group that lost one of its ships in a clash with Japanese whalers off Antarctica has filed a piracy complaint in the Netherlands against the captain and crew of the whaling vessel.

The filing comes after the bow of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Ady Gil was sheared off in a collision on Wednesday with the far larger Japanese ship — the most serious clash in what has become an annual confrontation off the frozen continent. A Sea Shepherd volunteer suffered cracked ribs.



The whaler, Shonan Maru No. 2, suffered no apparent damage. Both sides blame the other for the crash, which occurred as the Ady Gil harassed the Japanese fleet.



Sea Shepherd yesterday lodged a piracy complaint with the Dutch prosecuting authority, Sea Shepherd Deputy CEO Chuck Swift told The Associated Press by satellite phone from his ship, the Bob Barker. The ship is named for the former TV game show host, who donated $5 million (£3m) to buy it.



A copy of the complaint translated from Dutch to English by Sea Shepherd officials argues that the whalers are guilty of piracy because they served on a vessel that was used to commit an act of violence. The complaint urges Dutch authorities to take action within two weeks.



"They have certainly proven that some of them have as much disregard for the law and human life as they do for the law and whale life," Swift said. "We could have had six dead."



The group chose to file the complaint in the Netherlands because one of the Ady Gil crew members is Dutch and the Sea Shepherd's main ship, the Steve Irwin, is registered there, according to the complaint.



Sea Shepherd is also considering filing charges of attempted murder in New Zealand, where the Ady Gil was registered, Swift said.



Glenn Inwood, the New Zealand-based spokesman for Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, which oversees the whaling fleet, dismissed the filing as a publicity stunt.



"They have no real basis here for filing any claims at all, especially of piracy," Inwood said. "The chances of them winning anything, the odds are well against it — noting that they were in the wrong for the incidents to start with."



Given the circumstances, a piracy charge would be difficult to prosecute, said Don Rothwell, a professor of international law at the Australian National University who wrote a recent report for the government on Antarctic whaling.



An act of piracy usually requires that a vessel be boarded or seized, that goods be taken from the vessel or that a person is held on the vessel, he said.



While Sea Shepherd could claim that an act of violence justifies a charge of piracy, such a charge requires that the act of violence occurred for private means, Rothwell said. The whaling fleet would likely be considered public vessels under government control, he said.



Japan kills about 1,200 whales a year in Antarctica under what it says is a scientific program allowed by the International Whaling Commission, despite a moratorium on commercial whaling. Critics say the program is a front for illegal whaling, and Sea Shepherd sends ships to Antarctica each season to try to stop the hunt — an effort portrayed on the Animal Planet TV series "Whale Wars."



After Wednesday's clash, the Bob Barker began towing the Ady Gil toward French research base Dumont d'Urville, 185 miles to the south.



But the tow rope snapped en route, so the Ady Gil was left to sink and the Bob Barker resumed its pursuit of the Japanese whalers, said the Bob Barker's first officer, Peter Hammarsedt.



Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett on Friday ramped up pressure on Japan to end whaling by threatening legal action if diplomatic efforts do not show results before the next International Whaling Commission summit in June.



Australia says it could argue that Japan's whaling is illegal before the International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.



The whaling is conducted in international waters, but usually within the huge patch of ocean that is designated Australia's maritime rescue zone and that Canberra considers a whale sanctuary.



The whalers have changed tactics this season, sending boats to tail the Sea Shepherd vessels and reporting their positions so the main fleet can keep its distance.

Suggested Topics
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?