Paul Watson cleared in Costa Rica

DIVING NEWS

Paul Watson cleared in Costa Rica

Varadero
The Varadero encounter in 2002. (Picture: Sea Shepherd)

Criminal charges brought by a court in Costa Rica against Captain Paul Watson, founder of environmental activist group Sea Shepherd, have finally been dropped after 17 years of legal wrangling. The change of heart is expected to enable Sea Shepherd to resume its anti-poaching activities off Cocos Island.

The chain of events began in 2001, when Sea Shepherd helped Cocos Island National Park rangers to arrest and confiscate an Ecuadorian-flagged vessel for illegally fishing in the island’s marine sanctuary.

The following year Sea Shepherd signed a collaboration agreement at the invitation of Costa Rica’s government to help protect marine life in Cocos, which lies within its waters.

23 March 2019

Soon afterwards Sea Shepherd’s Ocean Warrior patrol boat ran into a Costa Rican vessel the Varadero 1, and found that its crew were illegally finning sharks in Guatemalan territorial waters – an encounter featured in the Rob Stewart film Sharkwater.

After the Varadero 1 had ignored several requests to desist, the Guatemalan navy authorised Watson to escort the vessel to the nearest port for arrest.

Varadero 1’s crew retaliated by filing a series of accusations against Watson. Although these were dismissed by Sea Shepherd as baseless, he was eventually arrested in Germany under a Costa Rican extradition request in May 2012.

When Watson was arrested, Japan also filed an extradition request, in retaliation for Sea Shepherd’s actions against its Southern Ocean whaling fleet.

Germany was set to extradite Watson to Japan but he fled the country and travelled to Antarctica to continue the campaign against Japanese whalers. Germany requested Interpol to put a Red List notice on him for both Costa Rica and Japan.

With the decision to drop the charges, Sea Shepherd says that Costa Rica’s current government has given “clear signs of support and interest” to resume the proposed cooperation, which would make use of Sea Shepherd’s patrol boats, tracking equipment and expertise.

“During all of these years, my sincere desire has always been to protect, together with Costa Rican people, the beautiful natural sanctuary that is the Isla del Coco, and other endangered areas linked to the Marine Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific like the Golfo Dulce and the Osa Peninsula,” said Watson.

“I hope that now, with this dismissal of these charges against me, we can make it a reality.”

biggest

LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!

Get a weekly roundup of all Divernet news and articles 🤿

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Related Divernet Posts

Diver Magazine Relaunch

Diver magazine needs YOU!

Are you still lamenting the demise of Diver magazine? Well now you can help resurrect an icon as we seek to bring back the magazine

Turtles of Raja Ampat

Turtles of Raja Ampat

The Raja Ampat Creature Feature Series: Turtles Raja Ampat is the perfect diving location to find four of the seven ocean turtle species of the

manta ray and diver over reef in Komodo

Divers pitch into Komodo manta probe

Manta rays choose to stick around Indonesia’s Komodo National Park in unusually large numbers – and, according to a new diver-led study, this community could

female diver holding pair of Fourth Element Tech fins

Tech fins inspired by humpback whales

Whales provided the inspiration for optimising efficiency in Fourth Element’s latest fins, according to the Cornwall-based manufacturer. The “turbulence disruptors” on top of the blades

Last Breath portrait of Woody Harrelson

Woody dives into Last Breath remake

A new version of the British documentary-thriller that captured the imaginations of divers in 2019 is about to be previewed at the Cannes Film Festival.

Follow Divernet on Social Media