WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 /CNW/ -- The Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), a
Japanese scientific body that studies whales, today accused the United States
television broadcast channel Animal Planet of involvement in ecoterrorism,
following criminal attacks against its research ships in the Antarctic Ocean.
(See footage at http://www.icrwhale.org/eng-index.htm).
Animal Planet, which is owned by Discovery Communications, contracted
with Tennessee-based RIVR Productions to produce a new series called "Whale
Wars", scheduled for broadcast in the United States in the coming weeks. RIVR
joined the crew of one of the ships owned and operated by the militant animal
rights group, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, as it launched a series of
criminal attacks on the high seas in January, February and March 2008 against
vessels operated by ICR. In August 2008, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police
Department issued arrest warrants for three of the Sea Shepherd militants for
violating the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the
Safety of Maritime Navigation (the SUA Convention of the International
Unlike land-based ecoterrorist groups, Sea Shepherd's modus operandi is
to sabotage fishing operations by attacking vessels at sea beyond national
boundaries, thereby avoiding prosecution. In March 2008, as the attacks on
the ICR's vessels were taking place, a former Sea Shepherd and Earth
Liberation Front (ELF) operative was given a one-year federal jail sentence in
California for teaching people how to make a destructive device that could
commit arson. A guidebook on eco-guerilla activity written by the head of Sea
Shepherd, Paul Watson, contains a chapter on how to use fire against an
Increased criminal violence against the Institute's research vessels
coincided with the presence and filming by Animal Planet on the Sea Shepherd
attack vessel. Animal Planet has itself admitted that the campaign "was
particularly eventful" (Animal Planet press release, 10 July 2008). The
violence included the deployment of propeller fouling devices constructed from
steel cables, throwing acid, smoke bombs and bottles onto the decks of the ICR
vessels and attempted collisions. Sea Shepherd has also welded a seven-foot
steel blade to its ships to open the hulls of the vessels it attacks.
Animal Planet established no internal systems or safeguards to prevent
its executive team, the production company and the ecoterrorists from
colluding to carry out unlawful acts for the television cameras in order to
produce sensational footage.
In addition to Animal Planet's involvement with violent attacks against
its ships and seafarers, ICR is concerned that broadcasting the series will
serve to glamorize ecoterrorism and make future violent attacks more likely.
Mr. Minoru Morimoto, Director General of the Institute of Cetacean
Research, said: "It is difficult to understand why a mainstream network would
stoop so low as to produce a series that glamorizes and thereby gives support
to ecoterrorism. Sea Shepherd's criminal actions last year in the Antarctic
were encouraged directly through the presence of the Animal Planet film team.
Animal Planet is responsible for inciting this increased violence and aiding
and abetting an international criminal organization."
For further information:
For further information: USA, Gavin Carter, of Butterfield Carter and
Associates, +1-703-619-1504, or Japan, Gabriel Gomez, ICR +81-3-3536-6521,
both for The Institute of Cetacean Research Web Site: