Greenpeace’s acquittal over trawler tracking overturned

Environmental organisation says it will appeal conviction to the Supreme Court

After first being charged and acquitted in a Helsingør court this January for illegally placing tracking devices on fishing boats, Greenpeace's latest trip to court didn’t go its way.

Yesterday, The Eastern High Court overturned Greenpeace's January acquittal and fined the environmental organisation 25,000 kroner for trespassing.

Greenpeace activist Sebastian Ostenfeldt Jensen also received a 2,250 kroner fine for placing tracking devices on fishing boats in Gilleleje harbour in 2010. The devices proved that the boats were illegally fishing for cod in marine sanctuaries.

Greenpeace now plans on taking the case to the Supreme Court.

“We want them to judge whether the trespassing was warranted or not,” Greenpeace Nordic's director general, Mads Flarup Christensen, said in a press release. “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 pointed out that the trials and convictions of the fishermen would never have happened without Greenpeace’s actions despite years of reports of illegal fishing in the Gilleleje sanctuary by citizens and organisations.

“If that is not enough to justify trespassing, I don’t know what is,” Christensen said.

Greenpeace placed the first GPS transmitter on a fishing boat in 2010 and documented over the summer how five trawlers illegally fished in Denmark’s only completely protected cod sanctuary. Greenpeace uncovered over 84 incidents of illegal fishing as a result of the tracking, while fishing authorities only captured five illegal fishermen between autumn 2009 and August 2010.

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 around 20,000 tonnes annually in the 70s, to under 200 tonnes in 2009.

Ten cases against the Gilleleje fishermen who are being charged as a result of Greenpeace’s actions are now being considered in court. Four have been found guilty and have received heavy fines but are now appealing. The cases against the remaining six won’t move forward until the appeals are completed.





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