By Patrick Caruana and Sarah Malik
Conservation activist Paul Watson says a US court injunction ordering his Sea Shepherd group to keep away from the Japanese whaling fleet will not deter its Southern Ocean campaign.
A US appeals court this week issued an injunction ordering Sea Shepherd and Mr Watson not to physically attack or endanger the whaling ships, and to remain at least 450 metres from them at all times.
The order was sought by the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), which undertakes the Japanese government's whaling program through a loophole in International Whaling Commission rules that allows whales to be killed for research.
The ICR has welcomed the injunction, saying Sea Shepherd has engaged in "violent and unlawful attacks".
Mr Watson, the head of the anti-whaling group who is aboard the vessel Steve Irwin, said Sea Shepherd was confused by the decision, but steadfast in its resolve.
"We are 100 per cent committed to saving whales down here, that's why we're calling it Operation Zero Tolerance," he told NZ Newswire on Wednesday.
"This campaign requires courage, passion and imagination - now it's time to throw some imagination into it."
He said the Japanese had engaged in aggressive acts against his group without being held to account.
Lawyers for Sea Shepherd would look at options to appeal the injunction, Mr Watson said.
Australian National University international law Professor Donald Rothwell said the order would be almost impossible to enforce, but could create problems for Sea Shepherd in the future.
"Because Sea Shepherd is a registered company in the United States and has its headquarters in the state of Washington, Sea Shepherd would be subject to consequences under US law if it failed to abide by the injunction," he told AAP on Wednesday.
"Paul Watson does hold a US passport and could be held in contempt of court and arrested in the United States."