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'Whale Wars' Captain Quits After Court Injunction

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

"Whale Wars" captain Paul Watson has quit his position at his conservation society after a federal court issued an injunction against his group's anti-whaling activities.

Watson became famous for his televised attempts to disrupt Japanese whalers on his show "Whale Wars," airing on Animal Planet.

However, last month, a Japanese firm secured an injunction against Watson and his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in a U.S. court, reports CNN. The injunction prohibits Watson from coming within 500 yards of the plaintiffs, which would effectively ruin Watson's attempts to disrupt the Japanese whaling industry.

As you may know, there is a debate over the ethics of whaling. Groups like Watson's believe that the Japanese are engaged in illegal whaling in certain prohibited areas. And so Watson piloted a boat and chased Japanese whalers in an attempt to disrupt their activities.

With the injunction, it appears that Watson will no longer personally take part in these activities, at least not as a representative of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Watson said in a statement that he will comply with the court order. At the same time, he also announced that he will step down from his position as the group's president and executive director.

So how did the Japanese get the injunction?

In general, an injunction is used to prevent future harm, as opposed to making up for past harm. Because an injunction is used to protect against a harm that has not yet happened, courts typically only issue injunctions in very limited circumstances.

A party seeking an injunction will usually have to show that there is a great likelihood that they will suffer harm from the defendant's actions, and that the likelihood of harm is not just some abstract construct. Apparently, that's exactly what the Japanese litigants were able to show in court.

Aside from the "Whale Wars" injunction, there's more legal trouble ahead for ex-captain Paul Watson. A new lawsuit, filed Monday by the owner of a ship used on the TV show, alleges Watson deliberately sunk the ship in order to gain publicity, instead of bringing it in for repairs, Fox News reports.

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