Captain Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd Director of Investigations Scott West took a quick train trip to Stuttgard, Germany today to meet with the Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo. “The meeting was positive and Mr. Castillo was very open to finding a solution to both the situation regarding my arrest and to the possibility of working with Sea Shepherd to protect sharks and the integrity of the Cocos Island Marine Reserve.” Said Captain Paul Watson.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is working towards turning this controversy into something positive, first by focusing worldwide attention on the horrific practice of finning sharks and secondly to extend efforts to Costa Rica to assist the rangers and the Coast Guard in putting an end to poaching and shark finning. Sea Shepherd has made great progress over the last twelve years in the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve and would like the opportunity to assist Costa Rica in protecting Cocos Island. In 2001, Sea Shepherd supplied equipment and supplies to the Cocos Island National Park rangers and that same year, Captain Watson seized the Ecuadorian long liner San Jose in the marine reserve. He turned the vessel over to the Costa Rican rangers and the San Jose became the first poaching vessel confiscated by the Costa Rican courts. The evidence Sea Shepherd gathered helped considerably with the conviction.
In 2002, just two days before Sea Shepherd was scheduled to sign an agreement with Costa Rica to work closely with the rangers the same way Sea Shepherd works with the rangers and the police of Ecuador in the Galapagos, the incident occurred between the Sea Shepherd crew and the Costa Rican fishermen, who Sea Shepherd caught poaching sharks. The accusations from the crew of the Varadero I, a vessel that Captain Watson caught shark finning in Guatemalan territorial waters, brought an end to the cooperation between Sea Shepherd and Costa Rica.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society considers Cocos Island to be one of the most treasured marine eco-systems in the world. The Society would like to resume where we were forced to leave off in 2002, with a cooperative effort between Sea Shepherd and Costa Rica to work together to defend, protect, and conserve the ecological integrity of Cocos Island National Park.
“If Costa Rica believes that there is a need to put me on trial over the absurd accusations of these fishermen we caught poaching sharks then I am prepared to cooperate with the judicial system to present our video evidence, our logbooks, and our crew as witnesses to those events. Costa Rica needs only to assign a date for a trial and I will appear before the Costa Rican Court voluntarily, if given assurances that my safety will be guaranteed. There is no need for an extradition or preventive arrest. All Costa Rica needs to do is make a request to appear.” Said Captain Watson.
The objective of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is to work with Costa Rica to defend sharks and other marine species. Captain Watson believes that this situation offers some very positive opportunities to reestablish Sea Shepherd as a cooperative partner with the rangers of Cocos Island.
Germany can make the decision to end the extradition proceedings. Costa Rica can also make the decision to withdraw the extradition.
Captain Watson is deeply touched by the enormous demonstrations of support from all over the world. “More and more people are becoming concerned and involved with the protection of life in the ocean and it is very encouraging to see so many people rally to this cause” he said from Frankfurt where he remains restricted to Germany for the time being.