Over the past several years, whaling has emerged one of the hottest topics in animal law. The 2013 release of the popular documentary “Blackfish” called into question the treatment of these mammals in captivity at waterparks such as SeaWorld. Since 2008, Animal Planet has also covered this issue through its reality series “Whale Wars.” The program follows the efforts of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, under founder Paul Watson, to stop Japanese whaling vessels near Antarctica.
As part of the DePaul Center for Animal Law's continuing mission to provide unique insights into important issues concerning animal welfare, the center will be hosting the lunchtime discussion "Pirates or Protesters?: The Institute of Cetacean Research v. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society" on February 5, 2014 at Lewis Center, Room 903, 25 E. Jackson Blvd.
The methods of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has embroiled the organization and its founder in numerous controversies, as well as lawsuits. In late 2013, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in The Institute of Cetacean Research v. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The plaintiff purports to be a Japanese whaling research foundation while the defendant claims that the organization actually hunts whales. Due to Sea Shepherd's tactics such as “glass containers of acid,” “metal-reinforced ropes... to damage propellers and rudders” and “smoke bombs,” the court found in favor of the Institute and labeled them “pirates.” Sea Shepherd has been enjoined from interfering with whaling vessels, but the case continues.
This decision has met with significant controversy from all sides of the issue. "Pirates or Protesters?: The Institute of Cetacean Research v. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society" will provide an in-depth look at the case with a panel featuring Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's attorneys Daniel P. Harris and Rebecca Millican of Harris & Moure, PLLC. They will analyze how the ruling may affect international maritime law, the future of the group, and the actions of other ecological-focused protesters. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson is scheduled to appear via Skype.