Great Britain
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Government wasting money by prosecuting Greenpeace over its North Sea trawling barrier, the organisation says

GREENPEACE has accused the government of wasting public money prosecuting the group for creating an “underwater boulder barrier” in the North Sea to deter trawling. 

The court will today hear legal arguments on whether the British government’s Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has jurisdiction over Greenpeace. 

The MMO is bringing a private prosecution against the group over its campaign in the  Offshore Brighton Marine Protected Area (MPA). 

In February the group dropped huge boulders to create an “underwater barrier,” in a bid to prevent trawlers from damaging the sea bed. 

Greenpeace said its action was designed to safeguard nature in an area already designated as protected “but which the government has miserably failed to protect” and argues the prosecution should be thrown out. 

The group’s executive director John Sauven said: “It’s baffling that the Marine Management Organisation are wasting public resources prosecuting us for doing their job for them.

“We’re facing a climate and nature crisis and in response the Marine Management Organisation has chosen to bury its head in the sand, ignore reality and prosecute Greenpeace for safely protecting nature.”

Last year Greenpeace created a 47-square mile boulder wall in a separate area, the Dogger Bank MPA in the North Sea, for the same purpose. Since the climate activists’ boulder campaign began, the government has consulted on closing four MPAs to bottom trawling. 

The group argues that the government is failing to protect marine habitats from trawling, which they say destroys marine habitats by ploughing the seabed. 

Lawyers for the group will argue today that the MMO has no jurisdiction over the actions of the Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, which launched the boulders. 

The MMO’s prosecution against Greenpeace is for depositing boulders without a license under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. 

The MMO was approached for comment.