May 9, 2002

To the Honorable President Abel Pacheco, President of Costa Rica

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Minister of Environment & Energy
Lic. Rogelio Ramos Martinez, Minister of Public Security
Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Minister of Environment & Energy
Carlos Uribe Sáenz, President, Cocos Island Foundation
William Muñoz, Executive Director, Cocos Island Foundation
Col. Claudio Pacheco, Director Costa Rican Coast Guard

Dear Mr. President and Honorable Members of the Government of Costa Rica;

On behalf of Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, we write you with very serious concerns with regards to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s role in Costa Rica.

As you know, Sea Shepherd was invited over a year ago to come to Costa Rica to sign an agreement with the government to allow our organization to help protect and preserve the World Heritage Site of the Cocos Island.

This is not what is taking place.

What is taking place is a travesty against an environmental organization that has spent more than a year raising funds for this campaign, to purchase equipment, generators, a radar system, and bring enthusiastic volunteers that would enable the Cocos Island Foundation to meet its mission goals of preserving and protecting the Cocos Island.

The Agreement was to give Sea Shepherd official status to intervene against illegal fishing activities in Costa Rican waters.

On April 22, 2002 we found a Costa Rican registered vessel poaching in Guatemalan waters. We did not bring the vessel into Costa Rica, we followed official instructions of the Guatemalan government, however, they reversed their instructions and we were requested to release the vessel.

For this conservation action, there has been a huge retaliation from the Costa Rican fishing industry, who have managed to interfere with the law to the point that a second prosecutor has now re-opened the case against Captain Paul Watson, because she is "looking for evidence against him."

There is no evidence that shows wrong action on the part of Captain Paul Watson or his ship, the Farley Mowat. There is documented evidence, however, of wrong action on the part of the Varadero I.

The first prosecutor reviewed all the evidence and dismissed the case. To date, however, there have been four different prosecutors manipulating the case, and three different judges conducting the investigation – all with different versions of the story.

On May 8, 2002 Sea Shepherd was forced to post a 300,000 Colones Bond ($850.00 US dollars) to the Court, so that Captain Watson would be free to travel to the Cocos Island, in order to serve the government and people of Costa Rica by stopping illegal fishing activities that are destroying the World Heritage Site.

Captain Watson departed from Puntarenas, only to be chased by the Costa Rican Coast Guard, demanding that he stop so that they could board his ship. Apparently there was no communication from the court to the Coast Guard, as would be required. The Coast Guard then fired two shots over the Farley Mowat.

It is unfortunate that we find our organization without support from the government that asked for our help in putting a stop to the illegal fishing practices (shark finning) in Costa Rica.

We have uncovered an illegal shark finning operation in Puntarenas. I am sure you are aware of the constitutional lawsuit filed by Association PRETOMA against INCOPESCA on March 19, 2002 (Case #2197-02). The case has been brought to the attention of the international scientific community due to the repercussions the ruling may have on endangered shark populations throughout the Eastern Pacific.

Studies show that shark finning at sea is an unsustainable practice, which puts sharks, sea turtles, and other marine fauna as well as the entire marine ecosystem in danger. The FAO Code of Responsible Fisheries of 1995 clearly states among other things, that shark finning is an unsustainable practice and must be discouraged wherever it occurs.

The world applauded Costa Rica’s recent ordinance (AJ-DIP/47-2001), which mandates that all shark carcasses landed at Costa Rican ports must have fins attached – an action which placed Costa Rica on a short list of five visionary nations that prohibit the landing of shark fins alone.

We are doing what you have asked our organization to do. Sea Shepherd has been working to preserve marine life and ecosystems, like the Cocos Island for over twenty-five years. We do our job very well.

Sea Shepherd is in hopes that the government of Costa Rica and the Cocos Island Foundation will continue the conservation efforts we began over a year ago, and facilitate a positive action toward signing the Agreement with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

As concerned citizens of the world, we want to preserve the most beautiful places on earth, and Costa Rica is one of those.

I urge your direct support of Captain Paul Watson in the dismissal of fabricated charges and bonds charged to our organization, and to the signing of an Agreement between our parties. We have come to Costa Rica in the spirit of solidarity and to help bring about a sustainable future for the Cocos Islands.

For the Oceans!
Lori Pye, Ph.D.
Director of Operations