"We filed a complaint for criminal prosecution with our prosecutor, requesting the start of an investigation into what we consider to be a crime -- piracy, actually -- committing violence on the high seas," Liesbeth Zegveld, a legal adviser for the group, told Reuters.
According to Dutch lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld the decision to sue in the Netherlands is justified because one of the six-strong Ady Gil crew is Dutch and the organisation's fleet flag carrier, the ship Steve Irwin, is registered in the Netherlands.
'There is enough evidence,' she said. 'The collision has been recorded on film.'
On Wednesday, January 6, 2010 Japanese whalers rammed the Sea Shepherd boat Ady Gil causing catastrophic damage. The Institute for Cetecean Research refused to accept responsibility for the ramming by the Shonan Maru 2. The 6 crew were all rescued by the second Sea Shepherd vessel in the area, the Bob Baker. The crew were immersed in the icy seas, forced to hang on to the deck for their lives. Crewman Simeon Houtman, of Auckland, received broken ribs in the ramming.
The Bob Barker attempted to tow the stricken vessel to the French Antarctic research station Dumont Durville, but the Ady Gil continued taking on water into its main hull, and has now sunk.
Sea Shepherd have released video footage of the final minutes before the collision which shows the volunteer crew relaxing, talking about the days events, their need to refuel, and farewelling their friends on the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Baker.
At approximately 50 seconds (2mins 30 sec into video) and 20 seconds (3 mins into video) before impact the whaling vessel makes turns to starboard putting it in a direct collision course with the Ady Gil. This can only be described as a purposeful, premeditated action.
Three other Japanese harpoon vessels had safely overtaken the Ady Gil, so why did the Shonan Maru navigate a direct collision course?
The natural thing for the Japanese Master to do would be by second nature not make those two turns to starboard and thus give the Ady Gil plenty of clearance as the Ady Gil had right of way. They also had the option of turning to port to avoid the collision, which clearly they did only after impact.
The actions of the Japanese ship were purposeful and their navigation decisions endangered six lives destroying another vessel. This was an act of high seas piracy far surpassing anything Sea Shepherd had done or even threatened to do to Japanese ships.
Sea Shepherd engages in harassment activities to disrupt an illegal activity. That is one level, Attempted murder is on a completely different level.
Whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is a violation of International Treaties and Australian Law
Japan is violating international and Australian law. The following list summarizes some of the violations.
- 1. The Japanese are whaling in violation of the International Whaling Commission's global moratorium on commercial whaling. The IWC scientific committee does not recognize the research that the Japanese are using as an excuse.
- 2. The Japanese are killing whales in the internationally recognised Southern Ocean Sanctuary for whales.
- 3. The Japanese are killing whales unlawfully in the Australian Antarctic Territory (Australian Law - Federal Court judgement January 2008 under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999)
- 4. The Japanese are targeting fin whales and humpback whales. One is listed as an endangered species and the other listed as a threatened species. This is a violation of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, of which both Japan and Australia are signatories.
- 5. The Japanese are in violation of IWC regulation 19. (a) The IWC regulations in the Schedule to the Convention forbid the use of factory ships to process any protected stock: 19. (a) It is forbidden to use a factory ship or a land station for the purpose of treating any whales which are classified as Protection Stocks in paragraph 10. Paragraph 10(c) provides a definition of Protection Stocks and states that Protection Stocks are listed in the Tables of the Schedule. Table 1 lists all the baleen whales, including minke, fin and humpback whales and states that all of them are Protection Stocks.
- 6. The IWC regulations specifically ban the use of factory ships to processy any whales except minke whales: Paragraph 10(d) provides: "(d) Notwithstanding the other provisions of paragraph 10 there shall be a moratorium on the taking, killing or treating of whales, except minke whales, by factory ships or whale catchers attached to factory ships. This moratorium applies to sperm whales, killer whales and baleen whales, except minke whales."
- 7. the presence of military/ security forces breaches the Antarctic treaty
- 8. the whaling fleet regularly refuels in the treaty zone below 60 degrees south in breach of the Antarctic treaty. In October 2008 the whaling fleet's refueling and cargo vessel, Oriental Bluebird, was deflagged following a ruling by Panamian Authorities. The maximum fine of 10,000 Balboas (US$10,000) was imposed on the owners of the ship, Hiyo Shipping Co. Ltd, in Japan who on October 8th removed its Panamanian registration and flag. Japan has ratified an international treaty which seeks to end the practice of 're-flagging' vessels in order to circumvent international environmental law.
- 9. the Whaling fleet fails to submit Environmental Management Plans in case of a maritime disaster in the Treaty zone which breaches the Antarctic treaty. The Nisshin Maru factory ship caught fire in 2007 losing all power including to its engines. One crew member died. An environmental disaster was threatened, but did not eventuate.
Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace and indeed any global citizen or group of citizens is authorized to take action in accordance with the U.N. World Charter for Nature. The United Nations World Charter for Nature states in Section 21:
"States and, to the extent they are able, other public authorities, international organizations, individuals, groups and corporations shall...:
(c) Implement the applicable international legal provisions for the conservation of nature, and the protection of the environment;
(d) Ensure that activities within their jurisdiction , or control do not cause damage to the natural systems located within other States or in the areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction;
(e) safeguard and conserve nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction."
Section 24 of the United Nations World Charter for Nature states:
"Each person has a duty to act in accordance with the provisions of the present Charter; acting individually, in association with others or through participation in the political process, each person shall strive to ensure that the objectives and requirements of the present charter are met."