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Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.
Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.
Sharks Win Appeal in Ecuadorian Court
The Historic July 2015 Verdict in the ‘Fer Mary’ Case Has Been Upheld
Earlier this month, on November 6, 2015, an appeal hearing took place in the notorious Fer Mary case.
This case dates back to 2011 , when the Ecuadorian Navy and rangers of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) apprehended the industrial longline-fishing vessel, Fer Mary, some 20 nautical miles inside the protected GMR. A staggering 357 sharks were found onboard this Ecuadorian vessel.
In July 2015, an Ecuadorian Penal Tribunal found the captain and crew of the fishing vessel guilty of poaching sharks in Galapagos, a protected area and a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site. It was the first judicial conviction of its kind in 17 years, since the taking effect of legislation adopted to protect the Galapagos archipelago. The captain and crew filed their appeal in August.
According to the website of the National Judicial Authority of Ecuador, upon appeal the case was re-examined and it was determined that both the infraction and the responsibility of the defendants had been duly proven at trial. Hence, on November 6, 2015, the Appeal Chamber unanimously denied the appeal and subsequently confirmed the guilty verdict and prison sentences of two years for the captain, and one year for the crew. The verdict also ordered the destruction of the Fer Mary, which has already occurred.
According to the law, the appeal decision may yet be challenged through an extraordinary judicial recourse at the Supreme Court of Justice. Nevertheless, this outcome is an important step in concluding the second phase of litigation.
Sea Shepherd congratulates the Prosecutors Office of Ecuador and the Galapagos National Park for their efforts that have reached this historic verdict and granted justice to the sharks. Sea Shepherd also salutes the civil society of Galapagos and the local community for their long-standing and valid concerns in this important case.
Sea Shepherd Supporters Outraged by Cruel Video of Pilot Whale Being Tied and Drowned by Taiji Hunters
A pod of pilot whales driven into the infamous killing cove on Nov. 19 (Japan time) was traumatized and held without food or shelter for three days; one was later taken captive, the remainder were killed or dumped at sea.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Cove Guardian volunteers have captured extremely disturbing video of the horrific tethering and drowning of a pilot whale by hunters in Taiji’s infamous cove and the organization’s supporters are reacting with outrage on social media. The graphically violent video, which thus far has been viewed more than 250,000 times on Facebook, can be seen below.
The pilot whale was among an estimated 69-74 members of a large pod driven into the cove on Nov. 19 (Japan time). Following the long and stressful drive to the shallow waters – during which time the pilot whales fought for their freedom and were at first split into two separate groups as they tried in vain to escape the hunting boats – the pod was to face three days confined in the cove without food or shelter. After each grueling day, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians remained at the cove, monitoring the pilot whales throughout the night. On Nov. 20 (Japan time), the violent captive selection and slaughter process began, as the protective matriarch of the pod was tied up to keep her from interfering with the brutal killing of her family. After three hours, 11 pilot whales had been slaughtered and one captive was forcibly dragged under the tarps for captive selection and later taken to the Taiji Harbor pens.
After staying huddled close together through the night, the pod faced continuing horror on Nov. 21 (Japan time), when over the course of four hours, 21 more pilot whales were killed. One whale is seen and heard by Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians crying out loudly as it swims through the water that had turned red with the blood of its family, but these pleas were ignored by the ruthless hunters, who continued the prolonged torture of these highly intelligent and social cetaceans once again the following day.
On the morning of Nov. 22 (Japan time), Sea Shepherd witnessed bodies of several pilot whales floating along the nets that lined the cove, as at least five pod members had apparently succumbed overnight to the violence and the trauma of witnessing the brutal deaths of their family, and drowned. Still, the hunters continued their torturous deeds and exceeded their own brutality of the previous two days. One pilot whale – who appeared to have already been “pithed” by the hunters (stabbed by inserting a metal rod through the spinal cord, just behind the blowhole), visibly bleeding and barely able to stay above the water’s surface – somehow managed to briefly break away from under the tarps and tried to find a way out by the rocks alongside the cove, but was dragged through the water and back to the boats by a heartless hunter in a wetsuit. The video captured by Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians reveals the horrific actions of the hunters and the heartbreaking desperation of the dying pilot whale, who was tied by its flukes to the side of one of the hunting vessels and mercilessly left to drown, further dispelling the myth that Taiji’s hunters want the public to believe that the killing of these animals is quick and humane.
14 pilot whales were killed on the final day of Nov. 22, 46 members of the pod in total. One pilot whale was taken captive, and the remaining members of the shattered family were transported back out to sea in slings. These small whales, likely juveniles, were abandoned at sea by the hunters because they would not produce much meat. Though they are left with little chance of survival on their own, they will not be counted in this season’s self-imposed quota which allows for a total of 1,873 cetaceans (including 101 short-finned pilot whales) to be slaughtered or captured.
Sea Shepherd’s supporters are calling upon U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the United Nations, the Convention on Migratory Species and other officials and regulatory bodies in regular contact with Japan to intervene to bring sanctions against the nation for allowing this extreme cruelty to continue.
“Short-finned pilot whales are listed as ‘data deficient’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There is simply not enough information known about their remaining wild populations. Migrating dolphins and whales are not infinite ‘resources;’ they are living and vital parts of the ocean eco-system that the nations and government agencies of the world must take action to protect before it is too late. As Taiji continues to ruthlessly wipe out entire pods – multiple generations at a time – of wild migratory pilot whales from the sea, they may very well be driving pilot whales to extinction,” said Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson.
site for more information.
President of Costa Rica Named ‘Shark Enemy 2016’
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is proud to be one of 30 environmental groups which have bestowed the international “dishonor" of being "Shark Enemy 2016” upon Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera, the President of Costa Rica. The coalition is calling upon the President to turn Costa Rica back into a country with a "true Blue agenda,” a country its citizens can be proud of, as well as the marine conservation leader that the world expects it to be.
The Dogs Have Landed!
Sea Shepherd Welcomes New “Recruits” to K9 Team in Galapagos & Gets Update from Retirees
Four dogs recently concluded their long journey from Holland to the Galapagos Islands. The remarkable dogs, Rony, Missy, Truus, and Xaver, were selected from many candidates in the Canine Center in Holland, for their particularly acute concentration and sense of smell.
Their job, undertaken in the interests of the environment and the preservation of all life, is to root out the movement of contraband wildlife products, specifically shark fins and sea cucumbers as well as other species, in airports and ships leaving the Galapagos archipelago. The trade in shark fins worldwide has grown to the point of threatening some species of sharks – vital apex predators to oceanic eco-systems – with extinction.
Ecuador’s K9 operations are widespread and include the search for lost people and for drugs, but the Environmental Unit, known locally as UPMA, is unique in its dedication to helping end the trade in wildlife and wildlife products.
Sea Shepherd has been operating in close cooperation with Ecuador’s Ministry of the Interior, and through the National Police of Ecuador, to acquire, train and care for K9 dogs since 2008.
Sea Shepherd welcomes the opportunity to continue working alongside the Ministry with the four new dogs who have arrived in place of former K9 officers Bosco, Cristina, Kevin, and Nico, all of whom have been retired to permanent homes in the U.S. with loving families. (See below for updates on the lives of these canine heroes and their fellow Galapagos retirees).
The Environmental Police have been keen to receive the new dogs and eight new qualified dog handlers have been specifically trained to provide care for and handle these uniquely trained “canine officers” in the Regional Center for Dog Training (CRAC) in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador.
The dogs have enthusiastically explored their new environment in Galapagos. Missy, a coal black, brown-eyed Alsatian, spent her first moments on the islands rushing from new smell to new smell, even before taking her first drink of fresh water!
After undergoing an important inspection by the BioSecurity Agency, Missy spent seven days in a kennel, as the quarantine procedure demands, before being officially released to begin her important role helping to conserve wildlife and protect bio-diversity in the unique eco-system of the Galapagos Islands.
On November 19th in San Cristobal, a presentation of the new dogs to the township was held, including an exhibition of the dogs’ uncanny ability to detect a given smell. Dr. Godfrey Merlen, Director of Sea Shepherd Galapagos, was on hand at the event to stand in solidarity with the Environmental Police Unit for which the dogs do such vital work each day.
Life after Galapagos
Since 2010, Sea Shepherd Galapagos has been in charge of providing food, veterinary care and oversight for the dogs of the K9 unit. Upon completing their service for the oceans, the first dogs to retire were returned to Sea Shepherd, whose staff partnered with Seattle-based Lady’s Hope Dog Rescue to ensure that they would be adopted into the best of homes. In October 2013, Manotas was the first K9 officer to retire, traveling from Galapagos to Seattle, Washington. In May 2014, four more golden labs named Nico, Bosco, Kevin and Cristina retired and arrived in Seattle. Terminator, Luna and Jhonathan retired soon after in December 2014, joining Manotas and the other K9 retirees in a well-deserved life of rest, love, joy and play.
Sea Shepherd is thrilled to receive these updates and photos from the dogs’ adoptive families, who tell us that our former canine “crewmembers” are happy and healthy!
“We are currently living in the Netherlands and Manotas is doing really well! He loves his tennis balls, walks to the dog park to visit his friends, going to the beach and car rides. He is also very enthusiastic about treats and snacks. We have taken a few road trips to various spots in Europe so our dogs are well traveled. We have three dogs now, Manotas, Sally and Linus. Sally and Linus are both deaf and blind, but kind Manotas is wonderful with them. He is such a sweet soul, and we are very fortunate to have him.
Manotas got erlichia when he was in Galapagos so we have been managing that issue and he had TPLO surgery last September. He has recovered well and is a healthy vegan dog. TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery is performed on dogs who have torn their cranial cruciate ligament (analogous to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans), for which Labradors are predisposed. Most dogs completely recover, as Manotas has.” – veteran Sea Shepherd crewmember Erwin Vermeulen and former Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Administrative Director, Susan Hartland
“Bosco is an amazing dog and my best buddy! He has such a sweet personality and is a true companion. Since I have no kids, it turns out all my pictures are of Bosco! Thanks again, Sea Shepherd, for bringing my friend Bosco into my life.” – Lance
“Cristina loves her life on Lopez Island! Since joining us in May of 2014, she has adjusted very well to her retirement. Her brother Tony was a little hesitant when she first joined the family, as he was very comfortable with his position as the only dog. However, he has grown to love his sister dearly, and looks for Cristina when he loses sight of her. Cristina had TPLO surgery in March , and this active dog was very bored during her three-month recovery. However, she is back to running, playing, and swimming after sticks in the ocean. The beach is a ten-minute walk from our house, and we go there almost every day. Christina gets super excited when I grab the leash. Of course, she loves tennis balls, as it appears all the Galapagos dogs do.” – Kathleen, former Sea Shepherd staff member
“Kevin is such a great dog. We love him so much and are so grateful that he came to us. Thank you for helping to make that happen – what an amazing gift! He is intelligent, serious and sweet – we have never met a dog like him! He watches everything and learns incredibly quickly, and yet, also rolls over for belly rubs and ear scratches like none other. I call him my “body buddy” because he is always right by my side and we do practically everything together – including car rides, which he adores. He also loves every kind of ball, both to chase and chew, and can't get enough of that cool green grass in the yard (although he has recently discovered that blueberry bushes are delicious. We go for many walks and beach playdates, and tug of war games in the yard fill our days.” – Chris and Steve
Kevin had to cut back on strenuous exercise as he was discovered to suffer from Exercise-Induced Collapse syndrome (EIC). EIC is a genetic syndrome, predominately occurring in Labrador Retrievers. Affected dogs show signs of muscle weakness, lack of coordination, and collapse when participating in strenuous exercise or activity. After the diagnosis, Kevin’s family has adjusted his activity level and we hear that he is now doing very well.
“When Nico first came to us he had heartworms. We took good care of him and are happy to say he is now heartworm negative. Sea Shepherd paid his vet fees for treatment, for which we are grateful. Our vets and their staff adore him – he is always a huge hit!
Nico now speaks fluent English, but loves it when our Spanish-speaking friends talk to him in Spanish. He enjoys eating, and his gums and coat are very healthy. Nico is an important member of our family and we love him dearly. He is a very happy dog, and from his days in the Galapagos he rides very well in a car, which is a huge bonus. His tail never stops wagging and he loves being touched and to be close to us at all times. Each morning he stretches and rubs his nose on the carpet and makes "Nico noises" before he goes out for his morning constitutional. Nico is a wonderful, precious and loving dog and we are now a family. Thanks so much for helping us get together with him. Ours and Nico's regards to all his Galapagan brothers and sisters in the Pacific Northwest.” – Jeanne and Dallas. Dallas was a team leader during Sea Shepherd’s Operation GrindStop 2014 campaign and was a leader with the 2012 Dam Guardian campaign.
“We absolutely love Jhonathan! He brings us such joy. He gets up around 5:00am and goes for a run with his dad at 6:00am. He loves tennis balls and water bottles – and he tries to take the bottles off the table to play with them. He likes to lay in the grass and in our shower (pebble floor), and goes for big runs with dad and walks with mom. We decided he has the biggest rump this side of Ecuador, and loves to share the bed and couch. My son is on the Autism spectrum, and he and Jhonathan have a very special bond. We feel very blessed to have such a great addition to our family! Thank you so much for taking such good care of Jhonathan and letting us be his forever family!
When Jhonathan goes for his walk or run each morning, he thinks he is still working and checks out all the cars for shark fins and sea cucumbers, also checking all ‘suspicious’ bushes and trash cans that he decides need a good once-over. He has his nose to the ground through puddles and wet grass, keeping our neighborhood safe from all criminal poachers that roam Bellevue! To date he has not found a single shark fin but that does not deter him from his daily patrols. Jhonathan has accepted our cat and we secretly think they like each other as we find them asleep in the same room when they don’t think we notice, but once he is awake he tries to chase our cat into her room. That worked for the first few months until the cat tired of this game and now holds her ground and will not move out of his charging way. Jhonathan feels he must be involved with all activities around the house and oversees our lives with a smile. We do not know who is having more fun each day, but we are sure glad he chose us to share his life with.” – Kristen, Mark and Tim
“Luna has been such a great addition to our family. She loves ear scratches and tummy rubs and sitting on the couch – and tennis balls, can't forget tennis balls! She is a counter-surfer extraordinaire, but we've finally figured just how far back things need to be on the counters before we leave for the day. We also have to take the knobs off our gas stove when we leave; she's managed to turn on the gas while we've been out (thank goodness our house didn't explode).
Luna and our other Lab Rupert get along well, though sometimes he gets a little jealous of having to share our attention. But overall he likes having another dog around. We're all happy that Luna has come into our life.” – Jennifer and Ted
“Our lives have been changed for the better since picking up Terminator. He is a wonderful addition to our family. I am certain that he had a very loving handler while in Ecuador, as he is a truly loving dog.
As with all the Galapagos dogs, he does love his tennis balls. He rarely leaves my side, wanting to help as much as he can. He has a sister, Honey, who has had to set him straight several times as to who is the top dog in our home. Terminator gives her a wide berth but we do sometimes find them laying or sleeping together. We want to thank again Sea Shepherd and Lady’s Hope Dog Rescue for giving us the opportunity to give Terminator a comfy retirement.” – Norm and Jeanette
All Photos: Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd Unveils the Farley Mowat’s New Design
The Farley Mowat is now in Tampa for dry-dock repairs – donate to help our crew and ship get ready for sea!
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is excited to unveil the new design of our vessel, the M/V Farley Mowat! The former U.S. Coast Guard cutter, one of two January 2015 additions to the Sea Shepherd fleet including the M/V Jules Verne, has been given a new look, painted in white with black lettering and details, the Jolly Roger logo for which Sea Shepherd is well known around the world, and the name “Farley Mowat” proudly displayed on its hull. See the Farley’s brand new look to the right!
The new Farley Mowat replaces the original Farley Mowat vessel that Sea Shepherd purchased in 1997 and retired in 2008. The new vessel was purchased with a bequest left to Sea Shepherd by longtime friend, Sea Shepherd International Chair and famed Canadian writer and environmentalist, Farley Mowat, who passed away in 2014.
Prior to arriving in Tampa, the Farley Mowat was docked with the Jules Verne in Key West, where the vessels underwent initial repairs and preparations, and the crew welcomed supporters aboard for tours of the newest additions to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s ocean-defending fleet, which also includes research sailing vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen. Sea Shepherd thanks all who stopped by to meet our crew and show their support!
Our Crew Needs You! The Farley Mowat is now in dry dock in Tampa, Florida, where it is undergoing final preparations to head to sea. Our dedicated volunteer crew is now completing all repairs, gathering of supplies, and preparations needed to have the Farley fully equipped and ready to defend our clients!
But we couldn’t do what we do without you “onboard,” helping us get our ship in ship-shape!
Below are some quick and easy ways that you can lend your much-needed support to help our crew complete this dry dock:
Text to Give by texting the word “SHIPS” to (301) 273-1714, then follow the prompts to complete your donation.
Visit our fleet’s Amazon.com wishlist to donate supplies needed by our crew.
When dry dock is complete, the Farley Mowat will depart Tampa, en route to a destination soon to be announced by Sea Shepherd, to defend imperiled ocean wildlife. Please stay tuned – and thank you, as always, for helping to get our ships on the frontlines to do what Sea Shepherd does best — protect ocean wildlife and habitats worldwide!
Sea Shepherd Served With Summons After Standing Up for the Pilot Whales in Front of Danish Parliament
Sea Shepherd Global CEO, Captain Alex Cornelissen, has been served with a summons to appear in court in the Faroe Islands.
Captain Cornelissen, a Dutch national, was issued with the notice by a Danish police officer outside the Danish parliament building yesterday. He, along with fellow Dutch nationals, Director of Sea Shepherd Netherlands, Geert Vons, and legal council for Sea Shepherd, Liesbeth Zegveld, had just finished a presentation on the grindadráp to a group of Danish parliamentarians when the incident occurred.
The summons relates to Sea Shepherd’s defense of pilot whales and other small cetaceans during the organization’s 2015 Faroe Islands Pilot Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Sleppid Grindini.
Between June and September this year, 490 pilot whales were brutally slaughtered in the infamous Faroe Islands drive hunt, known as the grindadráp. However, thanks to the direct action of Sea Shepherd crews, the lives of hundreds more were saved.
“Being served outside the Danish parliament building by a Danish police officer, after being invited by Denmark to address the Danish parliament regarding our position on the grindadráp, confirms Sea Shepherd’s position that Denmark is actively involved in the killing of pilot whales,” said Cornelissen.
Sea Shepherd was among eight groups who were invited to present their positions on the slaughters to members of the Danish parliament’s Faroese Committee.
In the presentation, Sea Shepherd underlined Denmark’s international legal responsibilities to protect pilot whales, to prohibit their intentional killing, and to enforce such legislation nationally, reiterating that Denmark’s support of the grindadráp is in breach of these legal obligations.
Sea Shepherd believes that the forum was intentionally weighted in favor of those who support the grindadráp.
“It was valuable to be granted the possibility to lay out Sea Shepherd's position on the law. I regret, however, that the hearing was too emotional to be a true exchange of arguments,” said Zegveld.
Despite the obvious bias in favor of the hunt, the forum does represent Denmark’s awareness of a growing sentiment against the grindadráp throughout Europe, as the government is held to account for its collaboration with the Faroe Islands in this brutal and bloody practice.
“The tide is turning against the grindadráp,” said Vons. “With continued criticism from within Europe and mounting pressure on the government of Denmark to withdraw its support of the slaughters, it is clear the world is no longer willing to sit by and watch these illegal massacres take place.”
Operation Sleppid Grindini
site for more information.
Australian Federal Court Finds Japanese Whalers Guilty of Contempt of Court and Issues $1 Million Fine For Violating Injunction
In a landmark ruling, the Australian Federal Court has found the Japanese whalers to be in contempt of court and fined them $1 million AUS for killing minke whales in the Southern Ocean’s Australian Whale Sanctuary, in violation of a 2008 injunction.
“This is a crucial turning point for Japan’s whaling program, which has long faced condemnation from nations around the world,” said Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson. “It is essential that we keep applying as much pressure as possible on Japan to end its barbaric and illegal killing of whales in the Southern Ocean – in the courts, through diplomatic channels, and in the court of public opinion.”
The Japanese whalers are also now facing claims filed by Sea Shepherd in the federal district court in Seattle. Sea Shepherd has asked the court to find that Japan’s Southern Ocean whaling program violates international law, and to impose an injunction to prevent it from continuing.
The Australian court ruling finds the whalers in “willful contempt” of an injunction issued by the Australian Federal Court in 2008, which banned the whalers from “killing, injuring, taking or interfering with any Antarctic minke whale . . . fin whale . . . or humpback whale . . . in the Australian Whale Sanctuary.” The Australian Whale Sanctuary was established in 1999 to protect whales in areas within 200 nautical miles of the Australian continent and of portions of Antarctica over which Australia asserts sovereignty.
The court found the whalers to have been in contempt of that injunction during four whaling seasons between 2008 and 2014, and fined them $250,000 AUS for each season. The total fine of $1 million AUS (more than $700,000 in U.S. dollars) was levied against Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha, the company that conducts whaling operations under a permit from the Japanese government.
The Australian case against the whalers was brought by Humane Society International. A key element in its success was the eyewitness testimony of Peter Hammarstedt, who was captain of the Bob Barker during Operation Zero Tolerance, the 2013-2014 whale defense campaign conducted by Sea Shepherd Australia and Sea Shepherd Global. Captain Hammarstedt witnessed the slaughter of a protected minke whale by the Japanese whaling fleet inside the Australian Whale Sanctuary, just 60 nautical miles from the Australian managed Davis Base.
This ruling comes at a time when Japan is experiencing mounting political and legal pressure to end its whaling in the Southern Ocean. In March 2014, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Japan’s previous whaling program violated international law. The ICJ ruled that Japan had failed to provide a legitimate scientific justification for its lethal whaling, and that it was thus in violation of the global moratorium on commercial whaling and the prohibition on commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The ICJ held that Japan must revoke existing whaling permits and refrain from granting any more permits under that program.
In response to the ICJ decision, Japan suspended its Southern Ocean whale hunt during the 2014-2015 season. However, last fall, Japan introduced a new program that calls for the killing of 4,000 minke whales in the Southern Ocean over the next 12 years. The Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) issued a report in June finding that Japan’s new program still failed to demonstrate any need to kill whales for scientific research.
The claims brought by Sea Shepherd ask the U.S. federal court to declare that that the Japanese whalers are violating international law by continuing to kill whales in the Southern Ocean, and that they have engaged in piracy through their illegal whaling and the violent actions that they have taken against Sea Shepherd to defend their unlawful activity.
“Japan has been found in contempt of the Australian Federal Court, its whaling has been declared unlawful by the International Court of Justice, and the International Whaling Commission has denied it permission to continue to kill whales in the Southern Ocean,” said Captain Watson. “There is no doubt that Japanese whaling is now a renegade pirate whaling operation that continues in contempt of the ICJ, the IWC, the Australian Federal Court and in the court of international public opinion.”
Japanese whalers have not officially announced whether they will send a whaling fleet to the Southern Ocean again this year. If Japan goes forward with its latest proposal, its whaling fleet could depart for the Southern Ocean as early as next month. Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in October that a “decision has not yet been made” as to whether these plans will proceed.
Captain Paul Watson Files Petition Against Costa Rica For Violating His Rights
Captain Paul Watson files a petition against Costa Rica for violating his rights through politically motivated legal proceedings.
Captain Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit marine conservation organization, filed a full petition yesterday with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHRC) in Washington, D.C., accusing Costa Rica of using the judicial system to violate his rights and derail his conservation efforts. If successful, this petition could bring an end to a lengthy battle between Captain Watson and the Costa Rican government, including potential dismissal of the Interpol Red Notice it issued in 2012 requesting his arrest and extradition.
Filed by Costa Rican attorney Abraham Stern Feterman, the petition alleges that the Costa Rican judicial system has deprived Watson of access to justice, and violated his rights to due process and consular assistance. Feterman says he hopes this filing will mark the beginning of the end of Watson’s problems in Costa Rica. “Captain Watson has suffered many injustices at the hands of the Costa Rican government, which for 13 years has engaged in a politically motivated campaign aimed at obstructing one of the world’s foremost marine conservationists, and protecting the lucrative poaching trade in the region,” Feterman said. “We look forward to seeing justice served and Captain Watson cleared of all charges.”
The petition asserts that “legal proceedings against Paul Watson [in] Costa Rica are the direct result of a political maneuver to disable one of the most renowned conservationists in the world and free Costa Rica to continue the traffic of shark fins, a practice that violates environmental stability of the planet and the natural balance of the marine ecosystems.”
The Costa Rican government has sought Watson’s extradition based on an event that occurred in April 2002. At that time, Paul Watson was captaining the Ocean Warrior when it encountered the Varadero I, a Costa Rican vessel that was conducting illegal shark-finning operations in Guatemalan waters. Under the authority of Guatemalan law, Watson attempted to arrest the Varadero I, but the poachers broke free and fled toward Costa Rica.
Nevertheless, later that month the Costa Rican authorities filed a criminal complaint alleging that Watson and his crew threatened and attempted to murder the seven crew members of the Varadero I, as well as damaging their vessel. This complaint was based on testimony supplied by the Varadero I crew. A local foundation offered Captain Watson local counsel, yet neither he nor his appointed counsel were provided timely notification about a preliminary hearing on the matter in December 2002. Although the allegations of attempted murder were later dropped, when Captain Watson did not appear for trial, the Costa Rican court declared him a “rebel” and issued a warrant for his arrest on the charge of “violation of ship traffic.”
This matter escalated on May 13, 2012, when German authorities arrested Watson in Frankfurt on this charge. Six weeks later, Costa Rica submitted a modified extradition request alleging “shipwreck endangerment and aerial disaster,” a far more serious offense typically associated with terrorism. Two days after that, Japanese authorities formally requested Watson’s arrest on conspiracy charges stemming from a 2010 incident involving Sea Shepherd’s campaign to stop Japan’s illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean. In August 2012, Interpol issued a Red Notice on Watson for the Costa Rican charge of “shipwreck endangerment.”
The petition filed yesterday claims that the Costa Rican courts have committed a number of serious errors in the legal proceedings against Watson, including ignoring the fact that they do not have jurisdiction because the events in question took place in Guatemalan waters, failing to inform Watson of his right to consular assistance, and allowing the case to proceed to trial with inadequate evidence.
The petition follows a request for precautionary measures that Watson filed with the IAHRC on September 25, 2015. It calls on the IAHRC to open a case to allow Watson to establish Costa Rica’s responsibility for violating his rights under the Hague Convention and the Vienna Convention, and to order Costa Rica to pay reparations. The request for precautionary measures could be resolved sometime in December 2015, while the petition to the Costa Rican government may take years to resolve.
“In 2002 I intervened against a documented illegal shark finning operation in the waters of Guatemala at the request of the government of Guatemala. No one was injured and no property was damaged. I interfered with poaching profits and so I angered some well-placed individuals. We filed this case with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights because my human rights have been violated by a politically motivated campaign to prevent my conservation efforts to defend endangered and threatened marine species,” said Watson.