Minke whales killed for 'research' by Japanese whaling ships.

Minke whales killed for ‘research’ by Japanese whaling ships.

As Japan’s whaling fleet left Dec. 1 to resume killing whales in the Antarctic Ocean, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vowed to continue its fight to save whales from the slaughter.

Last March, the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to stop its “research program,” rejecting the country’s claim it is for scientific purposes. Japan’s plan includes killing 333 Antarctic minke whales per year in the next 12 years, totaling 3,996 whales.

Through Operation Ultimate Justice, Sea Shepherd announced it is bringing the battle for the whales into the U.S. courts, asking the courts to order a “permanent halt to Japan’s unlawful whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”

Capt. Paul Watson. Photo courtesy of seashepherd.org

Capt. Paul Watson. Photo courtesy of seashepherd.org

“For years, Sea Shepherd took direct action against the whalers on the seas, saving one whale at a time from the Japanese harpoons,” Sea Shepherd Founder Capt. Paul Watson said. “But if we are to bring the illegal slaughter to an end once and for all, we cannot simply defeat the Japanese whalers on the water; we need to defeat them in the courts.”

These legal efforts by Sea Shepherd carry on the organization’s long history of working to end the senseless slaughter of whales in the internationally recognized whale sanctuary to Sea Shepherd. The nonprofit organization says it saved 3,651 whales from being killed through its Southern Ocean campaigns between 2005 and 2012, which were depicted in the Animal Planet series Whale Wars.

As a result of these successful interventions, the Japanese whalers brought every possible weapon to bear to try to stop Sea Shepherd, according to Sea Shepherd. Japanese officials tried, but failed, to convince the Internal Revenue Service to strip Sea Shepherd of its tax-exempt status as a non-profit. They obtained an INTERPOL Red Notice against Watson, seeking to have him extradited to Japan for trial. The whalers also spent millions of dollars going after Sea Shepherd in the U.S. courts, and in 2012, the whalers convinced the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to issue an injunction to bar Sea Shepherd from interfering with their illegal hunt.