As Greenpeace activists pull yet another carefully-timed publicity stunt by dropping rocks in the Baltic near the island of Rügen, supposedly to disrupt trawlers, sitting Member of the German Parliament and president of the German Fisheries Association Gero Hocker wants to see action from the police.
‘Introducing boulders into the Baltic Sea off Rügen violates laws and generates hazards to navigation. If you look at the marine casualty statistics, you can see that trawler losses are mainly due to fishing gear coming fast on obstructions,’ he said.
‘It is completely incomprehensible that Greenpeace can do this, in spite of a clear prohibition and an injunction. This is what undermines people’s trust in the rule of law. There’s a question of how an organisation that is classified as a non-profit can intentionally break the law – and then pay the fine with tax-exempt donations?’
Greenpeace started dropping boulders a few days ago, with the intention of making an area where fishing vessels can legally operate into inaccessible ground.
According to the German Fisheries Association, the boulders present a safety risk and prevent fishermen from continuing to fish legally.
The federal police have been informed and have declined to take any action, even though this kind of action was found to be illegal in a similar instance off the island of Sylt in 2008 when the police also declined to intervene as transport authorities had not issued an injunction.
According to the German Fisheries Association, Greenpeace has continued its illegal action, and the key intention is to provoke a response from the industry if the authorities do not take action.
‘The fishermen are not stupid enough to provide Greenpeace with the pictures they want of a battle at sea with fishing trawlers. The German Fishery Association hopes that the law will be enforced by the state,’ Gero Hocker said, stating that the industry’s position is that the illegal activities should be ended, those who break the law should face penalties and the boulders should be removed.
‘If we throw a used coffee filter into the harbour, we immediately get a €50 fine,’ said East Frisian skipper Dirk Sander.
‘But if Greenpeace drops boulders that can endanger the lives of fishermen, then the state takes no notice.’