'Ramming speed': the Seas Shepherd Conservation Society and the law of protest

Gerry Nagtzaam, Douglas Guilfoyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper examines the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a radical environmental protest group in its self-appointed role in protecting oceanic life. It first briefly examines the group’s history, its attitude to direct protest, its governing philosophy and its attitudes to violence as a means of achieving its goals. It then provides a history of various direct actions carried out by the group: in particular, it examines the organisation’s ongoing confrontations with the Japanese whaling fleet. The paper goes on to critically evaluate the legal justifications claimed by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for its actions. In particular it assesses the group’s conduct under various international law of the sea conventions and instruments, including the controversy as to whether its activities constitute vigilantism and/or piracy. Lastly, the paper concludes by asking whether Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s methods have become counterproductive to its stated goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-383
Number of pages24
JournalMonash University Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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