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Greenpeace Demonstrators Chain Themselves to Factory Trawlers

August 17, 1996

SEATTLE (AP) _ Greenpeace activists dived under water and wrapped chains around the propellers of three docked fishing ships to protest declines in some wildlife populations the group blames on the huge vessels.

Eleven people were arrested for criminal trespass during the daylong protest Friday in which activists also chained themselves to the factory trawlers and unfurled large banners. They were released pending court dates.

Greenpeace said some protesters chained the propellers to prevent the ships from leaving.

``They’re going to be stuck there for a while. We like to liken it to taking away the keys from a drunk driver,″ Greenpeace protester Holly Callender said.

Port police Capt. Tom Wilkenson said if it’s determined the ships were damaged, more serious charges could be brought.

``Some of those with the protest group dove under the ships with tools, chains and bars. If they’ve done things to damage the ships, then they’ve committed malicious mischief,″ Wilkenson said.

The protest came a day after Greenpeace released a report saying that declines in some fish, seabird and marine mammal populations in the North Pacific and Bering Sea have been caused by overfishing by the trawlers.

Greenpeace wants a ban on the industrial-scale fishing vessels, which can take in hundreds of tons of fish in a single haul.

Scientists and those responsible for managing the lucrative fisheries off Alaska’s coast disputed many of the report’s findings. They say the ecosystem is healthy, the fisheries well-managed and that population declines may be due to natural causes.

The factory trawlers are owned by American Seafoods, which will seek full prosecution of the demonstrators, said company President Bernt Bodal.

``It’s a circus stunt,″ company spokesman Jan Jacobs said. ``It’s designed to get headlines.″

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