Whale Wars Hits Seattle!

Whale Wars Hits Seattle!

I used to blog regularly about the Whale Wars, my name for the ongoing struggle between Japanese Whalers and those groups devoted to protecting whales.  But I stopped almost three years ago when Australia filed its case against Japan in the ICJ, since nothing important seems to have happened since then.  (Did we really need 22 months for written proceedings, when the reply and rejoinder weren’t even permitted? And then a decision to let New Zealand to intervene, and no doubt they need time to file papers.  Someone, wake me up when a decision or hearing is in sight!)

I used to watch TV regularly, but stopped a few years ago in an effort to set a good example for my daughter. But I regret that now because, I might have run across this program on Animal Planet, Whale Wars, about the “heroic” Sea Shepherd group that is engaged in a decade long effort to harass or even block Japanese whalers.  (Strangely enough, the “heroic” lawyers duking out these issues at the ICJ don’t rate their own show, or even make it into this show as cameos.  It’s because they need 22 months to file two measly memorials!).

As Jessica noted yesterday, the Whale Wars (as TV programming) came to an abrupt end yesterday when the US Supreme Court denied an emergency petition to overturn an injunction by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit enjoining the Sea Shepherd from coming within 500 feet of active Japanese whalers.

I don’t have access to the papers filed in the Supreme Court petition, but the jurisdictional argument described in the news seems pretty sketchy, certainly as to personal jurisdiction.  I don’t think the Japanese whalers’ merits claims are very persuasive either, but given that the star of the show is based in the Seattle, and that the organization is based in Seattle, the fact that it uses an australian affiliate can’t possibly be enough to avoid personal jurisdiction in Seattle courts.

In any event, I am pleased the Whale Wars has made it into US courts.  I look forward to re-opening my coverage of the various disputes, as the US courts will seem quite a “rocket docket” when compared to the glacial pace of the ICJ.

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Asia-Pacific, Courts & Tribunals, General, Law of the Sea
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I think you should prepare a case before the ICJ before complaining about the pace of memorial submission. Some cases–particularly cases of this sort–have stacks and stacks of volumes of annexes, mainly constituted by archival research, which needs to be undertaken before the counsel even get to work on drafting the memorials. If the ICJ is going to determine the meaning of a treaty, it is going to want comprehensive diplomatic correspondence relating to the treaty, previous practice, and subsequent practice, all with no rights of discovery. This is not assembled overnight, and neither is a 200-300 page memorial with multiple authors and multiple levels of authorization from various governmental bodies prior to submission. That two of these can successively be completed in 22 months (that’s an average of 11 months per memorial) is quite a feat.