Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Spain seizes Greenpeace ship 'Arctic Sunrise' off Canary Islands

The iconic Greenpeace vessel, "Arctic Sunrise" has been seized by Spanish authorities, after activists approached the Repsol oil exploration vessel as part of their recent protests.  Arctic Sunrise has been in the area for several weeks, protesting against oil exploration in the Canary Islands.

Photo: Courtesy Greenpeace España 

Spanish News in English recently reported on the ongoing protests by Greenpeace against oil exploration off the Canary Islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.  In a recent incident, several Spanish naval vessels rammed into a dinghy manned by Greenpeace activists, injuring four, one of them critically.

According to Spanish authorities a "case had been opened against Greenpeace for not respecting an exclusion zone banning navigation and fishing," however, they did not confirm whether the ship had been sequestered.

According to the ship's captain, the vessel "cannot move until a €50,000 ($63,000) bail is paid."  Spokesman, Julio Barea, told AFP Spanish authorities were holding the ship at Arrecife.

The previous incident occurred on Saturday when activists were using smaller boats to approach the oil exploration vessel belonging to the Spanish oil company, Repsol, which was about to start oil exploration efforts on Tuesday.

Three Spanish navy boats were captured on video ramming one of the activists' vessels and a 23-year-old female Italian protester fell in the water and was injured, her leg broken, in the incident.

While Greenpeace says it only wished to protest peacefully, the Spanish defence ministry alleged that Greenpeace was intending to board the Repsol vessel, which would violate a maritime exclusion zone.

The people of the Canary Islands themselves protested against the oil exploration, citing the possible damage to the ecology and tourism on the islands, but without success against the government's plans.

Spanish Sources:
Second photo of Arctic Sunrise public domain by Michael Sample