Are the crew of the Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin pirates?
They have been seen on television throwing acid onto the deck of a Japanese vessel and boarded the Japanese whaling vessel at sea. They also made plans to board a trawler with the intent of disabling the communication equipment.
I am a mariner not a lawyer but here is what I've come up with:
The definition of piracy according to international law is (Article 15 of the 1958 Convention on the High Seas):
"Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
1. any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
a. on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;
b. against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state;
2. any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
3. any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b)."
Again, I am no lawyer but it does seem that a good argument could be made that the crew of of the Steve Irwin are in fact pirates.
Maritime Piracy: Defining the Problem