Sea Shepherd, Sea Shepherd U.K. and Capt. Paul Watson have prevailed in a lawsuit filed by a Maltese fish brokerage firm, Fish & Fish, that was filed in response to the release of 800 bluefin tuna in June 2010 off the coast of Libya, the organizations reported Tuesday..
An Admiralty Court judge in Britain dismissed the case. His ruling was that the British courts were 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 Capt. Paul Watson dismissed.
Fish & Fish requested an appeal, which the Judge refused. Fish & Fish may still appeal the ruling to a higher court, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said..
Pending a possible appeal, Sea Shepherd said it will have the bond of 520,000 pounds (approximately $780,000 plus interest) returned. The judge ruled that Fish & Fish must pay a percentage of Sea Shepherd’s legal fees in the case, which could amount to more than 200,000 additional pounds, the organization said.
This is the case that led to the vessel “Steve Irwin” detained in Scotland 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 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 said it will continue to aggressively oppose the illegal exploitation of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean.
Watson, of course, is in German on bail awaiting resolution of a request by Costa Rica to extradited him to Central America to stand trial on charges stemming from a confrontation at sea with shark finners.