Eco-terrorism a Legitimate, and Costly, Threat


Steven Hedlund

Published on
March 4, 2008

The everyday responsibilities of buying and selling seafood leave precious little time to plan for an improbable act of eco-terrorism. But the threat is real - an eco-terrorist group allegedly set ablaze three luxury show homes in a Seattle suburb on Monday, causing $7 million in damage. The group, the Earth Liberation Front, is tied to the Animal Liberation Front, which vandalized a Chicago seafood distributor five years ago.

Supreme Lobster & Seafood Co. was the victim of the January 2003 eco-terrorism act. Vandals cut the lines to the brakes and refrigerators in 48 delivery vehicles, causing about $50,000 in damage. Spray-painted on a bay door of the company's facility was the message "AFL - No Breaks."

Since 2003, the AFL, ELF and other eco-terrorist groups have caused more than $200 million in property damage in the United States, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Eco-terrorists are difficult to catch because they're secretive and loosely organized.

But law-enforcement officials and lawmakers are becoming more cognizant of eco-terrorism. FBI Deputy Assistant Director John Lewis called eco-terrorism "the No. 1 domestic terrorism threat" during a May 2005 congressional hearing. President Bush in November 2006 signed into law the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, giving the Department of Justice more authority to apprehend, prosecute and convict animal-rights activists who commit eco-terrorism acts.

Though few and far between, eco-terrorism is a legitimate threat to the seafood industry. Protecting your business may be as simple as parking your delivery vehicles in a secured lot or installing surveillance cameras - measures you'd take to prevent theft.

Laughing off eco-terrorists as idealistic, tree-hugging adolescents won't get you far when your property is vandalized or product mysteriously goes missing.

Best regards,
Steven Hedlund
Associate Editor
SeaFood Business

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