Greenpeace acquitted of placing trackers on fishing boats
Greenpeace was acquitted in a HelsingÃ¸r court today on trespassing charges stemming from the placing of GPS transmitters on five fishing boats in spring 2010.
The transmitters revealed how fishermen routinely entered conservation zones in the Kattegat, created to protect cod stocks, and resulted in charges being brought against ten fishermen, with one receiving a 50,000 kroner fine and having 260,000 kroner worth of fish confiscated.
Despite the fact that GPS data was successfully used to prosecute the fishermen, the fishermen in turn pressed charges against both Greenpeace and one of its members who participated in the action.
But the court dismissed those charges, much to the relief of Greenpeace NordicÂ’s general secretary Mads Flarup Christensen, who was present in court today.
Â“It is with relief and joy that the judge decided to prioritise the work done by a handful of Greenpeace activists last summer,Â“ he said after the verdict. Â“They exposed systematic poaching in cod conservation zones of the Kattegat, which resulted not only in an end to the poaching, but also in starting a political debate that led to increased control over the conservation areas as well as increased sanctions.Â”
The conservation zones were established in 2009 after the collapse of cod stocks in the Kattegat. According to an EU study released in 2010, landings of cod caught in the Kattegat had reduced from between 15 to 20,000 tonnes annually in the 70s, to under 200 tonnes in 2009.
Â“Cod in the Kattegat is close to extinction,Â” Hanne Lyng Winter, a marine bilogist with Greenpeace, said in a press release. Â“The protected area in the Kattegat was created by the Swedish and Danish authorities in a desperate effort to save it. ThatÂ’s why the fishermenÂ’s systematic poaching was so scandalous.Â”
Four of the individuals charged with illegal fishing have been to court and have received heavy fines which they are all appealing against. The remaining six won’t be going to court until the appeals are completed.