Dutch fishermen have lost their case to make Greenpeace remove large stone blocks they sank into part of the North Sea.
The environmental organisation sank the blocks on the Klaver Bank off the coast of Den Helder in May in a protest action.
The Klaver Bank is one of the Dutch government’s Natura2000 areas in the North Sea and discussions are taking place to turn it into an ocean reservation.
Greenpeace says the discussions are taking too long and they sank the stone blocks was to draw attention to the fact that the Klaver Bank needs protection. ‘The area has an underwater environment that is unique in the Netherlands,’ the organisation says on its website.
However, fishermen in the fish-rich area were angry about the move and said their nets could easily catch on the stone blocks and that vessels could be capsized. They went to court to have the blocks removed.
The Amsterdam court said the fishermen had not proven their case. The only known case of a capsized fishing boat, in 1997 when a man drowned, was shown to have been caused by the recklessness of the captain.
Nor had the fishermen shown that trawling in the area does not damage the seabed.
‘That Greenpeace is again drawing attention to this area and trying to push the government into taking action is a legal right,’ the court said.
Greenpeace previously sunk stone blocks on the Klaver Bank in 2011 and says that these have encouraged new underwater life and encouraged biodiversity.
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