March 20, 2017: A Great Day for Cocos Island Park Rangers

Photo courtesy from The Tico Times

Why? Were they promoted? Did they get a raise? Is it their Anniversary? Or did they arrested someone violating the prohibited activities of Cocos Island National Marine Park?

Yes, they did arrested someone

In fact, this particular arrest was the biggest seizure of illegally caught marine wildlife since 2007. It all happened last March 20, 2017 during a routine seaborne patrol when park rangers spotted the ship Jose Pablo II (with vessel plate number PW-4893) fishing inside the 12-mile protected zone of Cocos Island.

When park rangers boarded the alleged illegal fishing vessel for preliminary inspection, it was found out that it had carried onboard a pile of dead sharks. Based on seizure inventory, it revealed that the vessel had a total of 96 sharks in possession, 58 of which are located on plain sight on the upper deck while 38 were hidden inside the lower deck. The inventory further showed that the illegally caught sharks are mostly composed of hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, thresher sharks and Galapagos sharks. Now, here’s the thing: upon close inspection by the park rangers, out of the 96 sharks, only 3 were found alive and was immediately released back to the wild.

Misleading News Information: Subject For Further Clarification

Based on information from a news report, it indicated that there was a reserve compartment that holds livebait and other fish species. Since the rule of seizure and confiscated wildlfe is to release back all living specimens back to the wild, the news indicated that it had released a total of 314 species of fish. 314 species of fish?

If you try to analyze the news report, it seems that the arrested fishing vessel contains most of the fish species, if not all, that can be found in Cocos island. For us, we think this is a typographical error. What we think instead, is that the news really meant 314 pieces of fish. But still, this information is only a hypothesis and is still being confirmed.

Arrest leads to Legal Pursuit

Photo courtesy from hindi.dynamitenews.com

If you happen to read our previous articles about how the Costa Rican government is addressing the growing concern about illegal fishing around Cocos island National Marine Park, this pro-active campaign is still on-going where arrests often lead to the filing of a corresponding lawsuit and possible time behind bars.

For this particular arrest, nonetheless the higher ups from Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment and the National System of Conservation Areas personally filed the legal complaint against the perpetrator where they think they have a strong case against the violators. But the filing of the legal complaint doesn’t just end there . . . just in case if you are thinking of the possibility of a court settlement and the case will just be forgotten over time. Before, it could be possible. But today, it is a No No especially if we talk about the judicial success of illegal fishing cases where, from time immemorial, a verdict was handed down sending a Taiwanese fisherman behind bars for illegal practice of shark finning.

What would happen if the vessel was not arrested?

Photo courtesy from www.costarica.com

The 96 sharks that were seized onboard MV Jose Pablo II would only represent a small percentage of the total load of the vessel. And just imagine if the vessel was not apprehended, it would continue its illegal activity until it would satisfy the vessels full load, or if not, go back to port overloaded.

Now, here’s the thing: we all know that these illegal poachers are only after the shark’s fin and has no use for other body parts. What they usually do in order to gain the maximum profit per trip is they cut and save only the shark’s fin and throw the rest of the body parts back to sea. Just imagine how many sharks fins could satisfy the full load of a vessel which equates to a huge number of sharks being harvested (or should we slay slaughtered) out of the water.

To sum up this article, March 20, 2017 was really a great day for the Park Rangers in Cocos island due to the fact that they were able to prevent a possible mass extraction, or should we say: tragedy of sharks and other marine wildlife deemed important to the delicate underwater ecosystem of Cocos island.

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Reference

The Costa Rica Star: Costa Rica’s Environmental Authorities Attempt to Control Illegal Fishing in Isla del Coco and 8 Sharks Dead, 6 Hurt By Illegal Line Off Costa Rica’s Cocos Island

Costa Rica News: www.costarica.shafaqna.com

Mission Blue: www.mission-blue.org

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