A court in Scotland yesterday turned down Sea Shepherd’s request to release its flagship Steve Irwin, which was not allowed to leave Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands, and declared its detention justified.Citing procedural reasons, the non-profit marine wildlife conservation society asked the court to release the ship and argued that her detention was not necessary because there was no question on her solvency.
The court, however, rejected these arguments and confirmed the detention after a lengthy hearing. As a result, the ship will be detained indefinitely until Sea Shepherd deposits a bond with the British courts in security of a €1 million damage suit filed by Maltese company Fish and Fish.
In June 2010, the Steve Irwin had rammed a pen owned by Fish and Fish to free the bluefin tuna its crew believed had been caught illegally, seriously injuring a Maltese diver in the process.
Captain Paul Watson, the vessel’s commander, said the NGO could soon have to sell the ship to raise the money to pay the bond. It had so far collected $442,279.37 out of the $1,411,692.87 it needed.
A spokesman for Fish and Fish said the vessel’s detention was necessary because it was becoming apparent that it would be difficult to enforce a judgment there could eventually be in favour of the company.
The decision by the Scottish court is seen by Fish and Fish as vindication of its position. The spokesman said the case for damages in the British High Court was expected to continue later this year.
Meanwhile, Fish and Fish has reserved the right to take further action over other Sea Shepherd assets if it is established that the value of the Steve Irwin did not cover its €1 million damages claim.
The company estimates that the cost of losing 600 fish that were freed by Sea Shepherd activists, coupled with the damage caused and the lawsuit, would reach €1 million.
The legal action has already crippled Sea Shepherd’s ability to conduct its “normal” business and had to change its plans on a new mission in the Atlantic aimed to “save” pilot whales.
Sea Shepherd yesterday reiterated it was not afraid of facing Fish and Fish in court, claiming to have “documented evidence” that the bluefin tuna freed last year were caught illegally. Fish and Fish dismissed these claims and insisted the fish had been caught legally.
Tags: malta, greenpeace, tuna, blue fin tuna, cages, afm, fishermen, injury, paul watson, fish and fish, boats, capsize, mediterranean, fishery, legal
Location: Scotland, United Kingdom (UK/GB) (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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