Greenpeace activist Sebastian Ostenfeldt Jensen. (Photo: Greenpeace / Sebastian Ostenfeldt Jensen)
Greenpeace charged USD 4,400 for tracking boats fishing illegally
Thursday, May 03, 2012, 01:30 (GMT + 9)
Greenpeace was charged and acquitted in a Helsingør court last January for illegally placing tracking devices on fishing vessels. The Eastern High Court recently overturned Greenpeace's acquittal and fined the green group DKK 25,000 (USD 4,400) for trespassing.
Sebastian Ostenfeldt Jensen, a Greenpeace activist, was fined DKK 2,250 (USD 400) for placing the tracking devices on boats in Gilleleje harbour in 2010.
Greenpeace used the devices to prove that the vessels in question were fishing for cod in marine sanctuaries illegally.
The environmental organisation now intends to take the case to the Supreme Court, The Copenhagen Post reports.
“We want them to judge whether the trespassing was warranted or not,” explained Greenpeace Nordic's director general Mads Flarup Christensen. “The city court found, as we did, that it was a justified breach of the fishermen’s rights when the five activists boarded the trawlers because the action led to the conviction of four fishermen and charges being brought against a further six.”
Christensen noted that the fishers were tried and convicted only because of Greenpeace’s actions, which came after years of reports of illegal fishing in the Gilleleje sanctuary by both citizens and organisations and which led nowhere.
“If that is not enough to justify trespassing, I don’t know what is,” Christensen affirmed.
Greenpeace installed the first GPS transmitter on a fishing boat two years ago and in the summer of 2010 documented how five trawlers illegally fished in Denmark’s only fully protected cod sanctuary. The group revealed more than 84 incidents of illegal fishing thanks to its tracking devices – compared to the capture of only five illegal fishers between autumn 2009 and August 2010 by fishing authorities.
These fishers then pressed charges against both Greenpeace and Ostenfeldt Jensen, but these charges were dismissed by the court.
The cod conservation zones were set in 2009 as a result of the collapse of cod stocks in the Kattegat.
A European Union (EU) study from 2010 showed that landings of cod fished in the Kattegat had fallen from around 20,000 tonnes annually in the 1970s to fewer than 200 tonnes in 2009.
“Cod in the Kattegat is close to extinction,” Hanne Lyng Winter, a marine bilogist with Greenpeace. “The protected area in the Kattegat was created by the Swedish and Danish authorities in a desperate effort to save it. That’s why the fishermen’s systematic poaching was so scandalous.”
As a result of Greenpeace’s actions, the court is now considering 10 cases against the Gilleleje fishers who are being charged. Four have been found guilty and have received heavy fines but are now appealing; the cases against the remaining six fishers will not proceed until the appeals are completed.
By Natalia Real