The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise has been detained by Spanish authorities in the port of Arrecife, Lanzarote, following last Saturday’s protest against oil drilling by Repsol in the Canary Islands.
On November 15, inflatable boats from the Arctic Sunrise approached the oil drilling ship Rowan Renaissance to protest against plans by Repsol to drill for offshore oil close to the popular Canary Islands tourist destinations of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.
The activists’ boats headed towards the drilling ship flying flags in Spanish calling for ‘No oil exploration. Yes to Renewables’. They were intercepted and rammed by three Spanish Navy boats from the Navy patrol ship ‘Relámpago’ (P43) which has been escorting the ‘Rowan Renaissance’ since last Friday, Greenpeace reports.
The Navy’s high-speed ramming tactics threw one activist into the sea. Two Greenpeace activists were injured. One activist, an Italian woman aged 23, suffered a broken leg and has been evacuated to hospital in Las Palmas by the Spanish Navy. The other activist was treated on board the Arctic Sunrise for minor cuts.
Following the protest, the Spanish government has launched an investigation against the captain of the Arctic Sunrise, for an alleged “infringement against marine traffic rules”, detailed in Art. 308 of the Law on State Ports and Merchant Marine and punishable with a fine of up to EUR 300,000 (USD 376,ooo).
Pending the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings, the Spanish authorities have ordered the vessel to be held until a EUR 50,000 (USD 62,634) bond is paid. The captain and crew have not been detained.
Mario Rodriguez, director of Greenpeace Spain, said: “The detention of the Arctic Sunrise violates the rights of all people who strive to defend the environment. It’s telling that the Spanish Government would so quickly support the interests of an oil company, Repsol, against a peaceful environmental organisation which stands alongside millions of people who oppose reckless oil exploration.”