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Sea Shepherd sues Japanese institute, company in sinking of Ady Gil


by: COURTESY OF EARTHRACE - The 78-foot trimaran Ady Gil chartered by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of Friday Harbor, Wash., was damaged during a January 2010 collision with a Japanese whaling vessel near Antarctica. The trimaran worth about $3 million sank after the collision.The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of Friday Harbor, Wash., well known as the anti-whaling warriors shown in the “Whale Wars” TV show, is suing the Institute of Cetacean Research and a Japanese corporation the environmental organization says are responsible for the January 2010 collision that sunk the 78-foot Ady Gil trimaran in the icy waters near Antarctica.

Sea Shepherd’s lawsuit, filed Thursday in Oregon’s U.S. District Court, seeks $3 million from the institute and Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd. to pay for the damaged Ady Gil, which sank after its sleek nose section was sheared off in a harrowing collision with the Japanese security ship Shonan Maru No. 2.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an Oregon corporation based in Washington. It sails several ships — most named for generous donors and animal rights activists, like Bob Barker — that routinely harass Japanese whaling vessels.

Sea Shepherd crews often use large slingshots to shower the Japanese whaling vessels with bottles of butyric acid, a foul-smelling substance that doesn’t do much damage but stinks up the ships and ruins whale meat that might be on deck.

Confrontations between the Sea Shepherd ships and Japanese vessels have been filmed since November 2008 for the Animal Planet television series “Whale Wars.” The Jan. 6, 2010, collision that sank the Ady Gil also was filmed from both a Sea Shepherd ship and a Japanese vessel.

Thursday’s eight-page lawsuit is the latest in a court battle that has raged for more than a year in Washington, California and now Oregon. Lawyers for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society believe the Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha company has some assets held in trust in Oregon, so they are seeking the $3 million to replace the Ady Gil, attorneys fees and other costs related to the lawsuit.

No court date has been set for the Oregon case. Neither the institute nor Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha has responded to the latest lawsuit. Institute officials have publicly denied any wrongdoing in the sinking of the Ady Gil.

In addition to the Oregon case, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a defendant in a case brought in federal court in Western Washington by the Institute of Cetacean Research, a Japanese organization that claims to hunt whales for research purposes.

Businessman and conservationist Ady Gil (whose name was on the trimaran formerly known as Earthrace) is also suing the Sea Shepherd society in Central California’s federal court for $5 million because of the collision that sank the vessel. Gil claims in a Jan. 7 breach of contract lawsuit originally filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that Sea Shepherd crews intentionally sank the trimaran for publicity purposes — and to boost fundraising efforts — even though its damage could have been repaired.