Legal investigations in Costa Rica re-vindicate Captain Paul Watson & seriously undermine all extradition proceedings against the founder of Sea Shepherd
THE AMAZON PINK DOLPHIN’S VOICE-11/09/2013
Paul Watson Revisits Malpelo-Costa Rica Incident
Environmentalist Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has recently been very active in calling attention to the illegal practices of shark finning in Costa Rica, as well as the allegations of ties between fishery officials and what Mr. Watson defines as “narco-poachers.”
On his Facebook Timeline, which is followed by nearly 235,000 social media netizens, Mr. Watson recently recalled the 2011 Malpelo incident, in which up to 10 fishing boats, all reportedly flying the red, white and blue flag of Costa Rica, massacred 2,000 hammerhead (Sphyrnidae) and silky (Carcharhinidae) sharks. Mr. Watson writes:
Narco Poachers Call the Shots in Corrupt Costa Rica
Despite promises to Colombia that Costa Rica would investigate the slaughter of over 2000 sharks in 2011 in the Colombian Marine Reserve of Malpelo, no action was ever taken despite Colombian rangers having identified and named a number of Costa Rican flagged fishing vessels. Now we know why. INCOPESCA the Costa Rican fishery enforcement agency has been on the take for years and is only now coming under investigation. With the support of the government of Costa Rica tens of millions of dollars in shark fins are landed in Costa Rica every year. Many of these ships are also smuggling drugs, also finally under investigation. The corruption in Costa Rica is the worst in all of Latin America. In Costa Rica, narco poachers call the shots and the government averts their eyes. This is the country that wants me extradited for stopping an illegal shark finning operation yet the shark finners and turtle poachers go about their business without fear of the law.
Mr. Watson supported his statement above with a link to a 2011 report by Sibylla Brodzinsky of the Guardian. With regard to his mention of INCOPESCA (Costa Rica’s government entity in charge of affairs related to fisheries and oceanic resources) being on the take, Mr. Watson is referring to the ongoing criminal investigation of Luis Dobles, president of that agency. Mr. Dobles is responding to accusations filed by a citizen by the last name of Caton, who claims that INCOPESCA’s president authorized the offloading of fin-less sharks in Puntarenas sometime in 2011.
The Costa Rica Star has previously reported on the INCOPESCA affair. Daily newspaper La Nacion reported on a statement by Mr. Dobles that indicates he once authorized the offloading of sharks without their backs, which are often cut for filets, but that their fins were attached and intact. That fishing vessel was later investigated for shark finning.
Mr. Watson has also written on his Facebook Timeline about the ongoing INCOPESCA affair:
I am not surprised. However I do not expect the charges to be dropped against me. The corruption goes all the way to the top to the office of the President. Hopefully the pieces will begin to fall into place and more will be revealed about how Costa Rica has one of the worst records of marine conservation in all of Latin America.
The INTERPOL issued a Red Notice for the arrest of Mr. Watson about a year ago. The charges against him are pending in the same prosecutor’s office in Puntarenas that is handling the criminal investigation on Mr. Dobles and his alleged authorization of shark finning as INCOPESCA’s president. You can read more about this affair in our archived news section on Paul Watson. It is important to note that Mr. Watson could find some vindication should Mr. Dobles be found criminally liable with regard to shark finning in Costa Rica.
With regard to the Malpelo incident reported by the Guardian and mentioned by Mr. Watson, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Costa Rica sent a communiqué to the Colombian government on the matter on September 19th, 2011. That cable requested more information on the matter, to which the Colombian Chancellery initially responded that no further information was available other than what Sandra Bessudo, the advisor to the Colombian Presidential Office on marine conservation matters, provided to the press.
Less than a year after the alleged Malpelo shark massacre, the governments of Costa Rica and Colombia ratified their commitment to protecting marine resources, particularly sharks. The Costa Rica Star reported on the matter, along with similar efforts by Honduras. About fourteen suspects were rounded up for their participation in the grisly mass shark killing, four of them were Costa Rican citizens who spent about 11 months in a Colombian prison.
How Deep is The CR Shark Finning Rabbit Hole?
Costa Rica News – There are many side of the story when it comes to illegal shark finning in Costa Rica. The question out there now that needs to be answered is not whether or not the Costa Rican government is involved but how high up does it go?
The biggest critic of Costa Rica’s shark finning policies is Captain Paul Watson from Sea Shepherd. He had stated that Costa Rican government officials were involved in the trade and now it seems like his claims are starting to be validated with recent events.
Prosecutors have lodged a criminal complaint in Puntarenas against Luis Dobles, the Executive President of the National Institute of Fishing and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA). The charges are for involvement in a shark fin poaching operation. You read that right, the President of the Costa Rican government organization that is in charge of protecting the sea life has been charged with shark finning the Costa Rican waters.
The MSP (Costa Rica’s Ministry of Public Safety) has accused Dobles of authorizing the offloading of finless sharks in Puntarenas. The complaint specifies that he allowed a fishing vessel from Belize to dock although a better purchase offer was received from El Salvador. The boat returned five days later.
This fits with a tactic to avoid the law. The fishermen legally catch sharks but then illegally hack off their fins and leave them to die. The boat docks and the crew fakes selling the catch, which is actually shark fins.
The complaint is filed under docket 11-2032-431 PE and is awaiting resolution in criminal court. If the charges are deemed accurate, it would vindicate the idea that officials in Costa Rica have been secretly working with shark fin poachers and fin trade.
The courts in Puntarenas are busy with a few of these shark finning cases. They have processed seven related complaints in just two years.
As the outside world looks in on Costa Rica and how internally they are trying to promote their “green image”, it seems it is only a matter of time before the truth is revealed from behind the smoke and mirrors.
Let’s count the ways that Costa Rica has pushed away tourists in the past few months: Jairo Mora’s murder, drug cartels setting up shop in Costa Rica, getting in a pointless debate with Daniel Ortega about something that is not going to happen, and continually allowing the destruction of your environment.
But I guess we should have come to expect it from governments around the world as they sign bills into place in order to protect their image and have no plan on actually enforcing and implementing these laws.
Costa Rica your actions are in complete contradiction in regards to the environmental “green” image you are trying to portray to the world and at some point no amount of marketing is going to be able to hide the truth.
Captain Paul Watson’s claims about Costa Rica and it’s shark finning are currently coming into fruition.
Source: The Costarican Times
Public Official in Costa Rica Accused of Shark Finning
Source: Flickr CC
Prosecutors in Puntarenas, a major port city in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, have lodged a criminal complaint against the Executive President of the National Institute of Fishing and Aquaculture (Spanish acronym: INCOPESCA). The charges are related to shark fin poaching.
According to an online news report by Alvaro Sanchez of CRHoy.com, INCOPESCA’s Executive President Luis Dobles has been accused by prosecutors of Costa Rica’s Ministry of Public Safety (MSP in Spanish) ofauthorizing the offload of a malicious catch of fin-less sharks in Puntarenas.
The complaint, which has been filed under docket 11-2032-431 PE, is awaiting a resolution by the criminal division of the court in Puntarenas. It explains that a fishing vessel flying the Belizean flag requested authorization to dock and offload in Puntarenas; however, a better purchase offer may have arrived from El Salvador. According to Dobles, the boat returned to Costa Rica five days later.
Should the charges against Dobles stick, they would vindicate Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and international fugitive, who claims that public officials in Costa Rica are in cahoots with shark fin poachers and their wicked, yet lucrative, trade.
The MSP complaint alleges that the Belizean fishing vessel offloaded sharks that had been relieved of their fins. This may conform to a tactic used by shark fin poachers who seek to skirt the law: They legally catch sharks, but they hack off their fins and leave them to die on deck or below in the fish hold. When the boat docks, the criminal crew fakes selling the catch, which is exchanged at a bargain price or quickly disposed of.
The prosecutor’s office in Puntarenas is the busiest in Costa Rica with regard to shark fin poaching. In the last two years, they have processed seven related complaints, including the case of the Hung Chi Fu, in which the captain of the Taiwanese vessel initially received a fine, but was later sentenced to two years in prison. Prosecutors in Puntarenas are currently handling six shark finning cases.
Source: Costa Rica Star
Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras
Gustavo López Ospina
Pieter Jan Brouwer
Assistant: Emilia Romero
SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer.