FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. – June 25, 2012 – Sea Shepherd, Sea Shepherd U.K. and Captain Paul Watson have won the lawsuit filed by Maltese fish brokerage firm, Fish & Fish, that was filed in response to the release of 800 illegally caught Bluefin tuna in June 2010 off the coast of Libya.
Mr. Justice Hamblin of the Admiralty Court announced his decision this morning in a courtroom in London. His ruling was that the U.K. Court was not the proper place to file the suit against Sea Shepherd and ordered the case against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Sea Shepherd U.K. and Captain Paul Watson dismissed. Fish and Fish requested an appeal, which the Judge refused. Fish and Fish may still appeal the ruling to a higher court.
Pending a possible appeal, Sea Shepherd will have the bond of 520,000 pounds (approximately $780,000.00 USD plus interest) returned. The judge ruled that Fish and Fish must pay a percentage of Sea Shepherd’s legal fees in the case, which could amount to more than 200,000 additional pounds.
This case saw the Steve Irwin arrested in Scotland in July of 2011 and released only after the bond was posted. The bond was raised in only 10 days from Sea Shepherd supporters worldwide.
“What we did in 2010 we have no apologies for,” said Captain Paul Watson. “We freed 800 large endangered Bluefin tuna illegally caught by poachers off the coast of Libya. We cut the nets and when the Maltese company that claimed ownership of these liberated fish sued us, we stood our ground in court and we won, the tuna won, and the poachers lost. Our British lawyers did an excellent job. I am confident that if an appeal is granted, we will see the appeal court upholding this ruling. Bottom line and most importantly, the fish were freed and the company failed to recover their requested losses for their illegal catch.”
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will continue to aggressively oppose the illegal exploitation of Bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean. The society is seeking a vessel dedicated to the protection and conservation of biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea.