With the Costa Rican longliner Kendy under arrest and the interception of the Ecuadorian seiner Ancon at Darwin Island, the message has gone out that it is not safe for poaching in the north of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
Therefore, the Sea Shepherd conservation research ship Farley Mowat departed today for Costa Rica's Cocos Island.
It is a 380-mile crossing to Cocos Island and the Farley Mowat is expected to arrive at Cocos Island on Tuesday morning, June 15.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been working with the rangers at Cocos Island since 2000. In 2001, we intercepted and were instrumental in the arrest, seizure and confiscation of the large Ecuadorian longliner San Jose. In 2002, we delivered generators, policing equipment, and a radar surveillance system to the Cocos Island ranger station and assisted in patrols.
There is large scale poaching of sharks in the Galapagos corridor and the crew of the Farley Mowat will be searching for poaching activity inside the Cocos Island Marine Reserve.
Shark-poaching and the illegal setting of longlines is a major problem in Costa Rican waters. Corruption has reached the highest levels of office in Costa Rica and the shark fin mafia run by individuals like Chino Diego (out of Puntarenas, Costa Rica) pay off the courts, the politicians and the police to facilitate the continued export of illegal shark fins to Asia.
Costa Rica has long had a good reputation as a decent democracy in Central America. The reality is that the Taiwanese fish with impunity within Costa Rican waters and officials turn their backs on illegal off-loading of shark fins in the nation's ports. Bribery, not regulations, decides shark "management" in Costa Rica.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has received some complaints from a few individuals and groups that we should not be critical of the governments of Ecuador and Costa Rica. We disagree. When we see corruption, we believe it is our duty and our responsibility to report and expose it.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not out here on these waters to win a popularity contest. We believe that there is a need for an independent voice to witness what is happening and report the situation honestly.
We are ready to praise Ecuador and Costa Rica when they take strong conservation positions and we did so a few days ago when we reported on the ruling by the Ecuadorian MInister of Commerce to ban shark-finning. In fact we have nothing but praise for the Director, officers and Rangers of the Galapagos National Park and for the Rangers on Cocos Island. They are all dedicated individuals working in a frustratingly bureaucratic environment with little resources and little cooperation from the Ecuadorian Navy.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a non-governmental international organization must speak out and say things that need to be said, and to expose inaction and corruption whenever and wherever we find it. That is our niche in the marine conservation movement. Our role is to rock the boat and make waves. We try to do the best job we can of it, when we can, where we can and however we can.