The drama that began when anti-whalers scuttled a fellow anti-whaling vessel in the Southern Ocean in 2010 finally reached a conclusion. An arbitrator ruled that the Sea Shepherd “acted wrongly” when it scuttled a fellow ship without first contacting its owner.
In January 2010, the anti-whaling Sea Shepherd and the Ady Gil were sailing on the Southern Ocean in an attempt to stop the whaling ship, Shonan Maru #2, before the Japanese ship could catch and kill hundreds of whales.
However, during the scuffle between the ships, the Shonan Maru destroyed the Ady Gil. What followed became the issue in a lawsuit between the Ady Gil’s owner, animal activist Ady Gil, and the Sea Shepherd. Rather than attempt to salvage the Ady Gil, the Sea Shepherd’s crew decided to scuttle the ship – and did so without contacting Mr. Gil. The drama was captured on film for Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars.”
In making her decision, arbitrator Jean Kalicki took into consideration testimony by engineers that stated that while the Ady Gil was disabled by the Shonan Maru, it was not in danger of fully sinking. She further determined that the Sea Shepherd abandoned the ship for television ratings.
“[The Sea Shepherd’s crew] nonetheless concocted and implemented a secret plan to scuttle the vessel, for their own reasons and without consulting the vessel’s owner. This decision was not made for the primary reason of reducing navigational hazards . . . but for the purposes of continuing their mission and more fundamentally maintaining the high drama that they believed the Whale Wars audience had come to expect, and on which [the Sea Shepherd’s] own popularity (and potential future fundraising) in part depended.”
The arbitrator was particularly harsh on Sea Shepherd founder, Paul Watson as she found his testimony evasive, contradictory and lacking genuineness. As for Gil, she found that his testimony appeared genuine.
In siding with Mr. Gil, the arbitrator awarded him $500,000 in compensatory damages plus interest beginning January 8, 2010 onward.
Mr. Gil stated that he is happy with the decision and that he “cared more about the truth which came out, than the money.” He further stated that the compensatory damages he received will go back into his foundation to help animals.
As far as the Sea Shepherd, it released a statement that, “As Sea Shepherd has always maintained, responsibility for the loss of the Ady Gil lies with the Captain of the [Shonan Maru], who destroyed the ship without consequence. Sea Shepherd has been pursuing the Japanese whalers in court to compensate for its loss of the use of the vessel and will continue to do so.”