By Captain Alex Cornelissen, Director of Operations, Sea Shepherd Galápagos
Unfortunately, this is the reality for the Rangers on Cocos Island. Foreign fishing vessels wreak havoc on the shark populations in what is supposed to be a designated marine protected area and World Heritage Site. The Rangers have limited resources and can’t possibly catch all the vessels. They are up against whole fleets with no support from their government or coast guard. Sea Shepherd made the offer to help patrol the protected area of the Cocos Island Marine Reserve in 2002 and again in 2012, but our help is not welcome. Not that Cocos Island is hard to control; in fact, it is one of the easiest places in the world in which illegal fishing can be shut down. This can be done very efficiently at minimal cost. Clearly we could make a difference, like we have been doing in the Galápagos for years, but it seems that level of control is going to interfere with the bribes the Costa Rican government is receiving from the shark finners.
The Costa Rican government is making a mockery of the progress other countries in the region have achieved by continuing to pretend they have the shark finning problem under control. Reality is, the foreign shark finning fleets are controlling Costa Rican waters and the Chinchilla administration isn’t doing a damn thing about it.