Human Interaction

Whale Wars Is Sea Shepherd a Legitimate Organization?

posted: 05/15/12

Animal Planet presents this feature as a conversation with legal scholars. We draw no conclusions, other than that reasonable legal minds differ on these issues.

DR. CHARLOTTE EPSTEIN: "Paul Watson ... used to be a Greenpeace member and was involved with Greenpeace's turn to the whaling issue. [...] Greenpeace didn't want much to do with the violence of Paul Watson's tactics, and he founded the Sea Shepherds. And so he has quite a long history of violent action to get what he thinks of as fit environmental objectives, regardless of whether other people think they are fit environmental objectives."

DR. TIMOTHY STEPHENS: "... Paul Watson is, you know, the head of Sea Shepherd, and he's clearly a very experienced mariner. He can captain the Steve Irwin or any other vessel that Sea Shepherd runs. Absolutely, he's a legitimate Master of that vessel. He would be regarded as such anywhere in the world.

"And the key thing to remember at the moment is that the Sea Shepherd vessels have a flag. They're flagged to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, so it's perfectly fine. It's a lawful operation in that respect. The question really hangs over the particular activities of Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean and elsewhere, for that matter, to the extent it involves violence against other vessels."

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