Dealing to Green Pirates, eco-terrorists and Hippy-crites

Green eco-terrorists and pirates like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd are being pursued because of changes in thinking surrounding piracy laws.

Traditionally, piracy was carried out as a form of robbery to enrich the pirates. In the ‘golden age’ of piracy, pirates such as Blackbeard commanded large fleets of ships and amassed huge fortunes on the high seas. The pirate crews also profited from the raids and there were even systems of workman’s compensation for the crews.

Under international law, piracy prosecutions traditionally required that the alleged pirates were seeking private gains. The Harvard Draft Convention on Piracy from 1932 noted that, “If an attack by a ship manned by insurgents is inspired by a motive of private plunder, it may be piracy under the definitions of the draft convention.” Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, piracy requires the use of violence against a ship when it is “committed for private ends.” The requirement fits with the traditional definition of a pirate as a businessman seeking to enrich himself and his crew. In the 1820 case of United States v. Smith, the U.S. Supreme Court defined piracy as “robbery on the high seas.”

But now that’s changing: Nations have begun to accept the idea that piracy can include politically motivated attacks on ships, even by environmentalists. 

Perhaps the government should look at that here…instead of being a bunch of no-dicks. Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd have only themselves to blame.

Greenpeace, in fact, has seen this change from up close. In 1986, the organization was at the center of a major court case that shifted the definition of piracy away from plunder and towards attacks motivated by an ideological commitment. That year, Greenpeace attacked two Dutch ships that were preparing to discharge waste in the ocean. The activists made a sophisticated assault on the Dutch crew; they attached cables to the ship, placed paint on the command post, threatened the sailors with a knife, and tried to place the anchor down. The Belgian Court of Cassation classified the attacks as an instance of piracy because, even though the attack wasn’t designed for financial profit, the Greenpeace crew was taking violent action based on their personal beliefs.

More recently, U.S. Courts have adopted this view in upholding an injunction against the Sea Shepherd for attacking Japanese whaling boats. The Sea Shepherd was started by Paul Watson in 1977 after he split off from Greenpeace because he found their tactics too passive. Watson has been criticized by Greenpeace for dangerous tactics: He has said that his goal is not to protest Japanese whaling: “We are here to stop them.” After years of clashes, a Japanese whaling group called the Ceatacean filed an injunction in U.S. Court seeking to halt the attacks on their research ships. Originally, Judge Richard Jones, a former lawyer for the port authority of Seattle, refused to recognize the Sea Shepherd’s actions as piracy. But his opinion was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Alex Kozinski noted that “you don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch” to be a pirate. Kozinski concluded that when you “ram ships; hurl containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.” Though the Sea Shepherd didn’t have financial gains to seek from the attacks, U.S. Courts considered this piracy because it was motivated by a personal belief and included drastic instances of violence.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.