Watson in Galapagos

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2001:

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS,  Ecuador– “After assisting at the clean-up of a January oil spill,  on March 7 the Sea Shepherd International patrol boat Sirenian,”  under captain Paul Watson, “became the first foreign-flagged vessel to be allowed to patrol in the Galapagos Marine Reserve,” Sea Shepherd marine liaison officer Sean O’Hearn announced on March 18.

“In five days,”  O’Hearn continued,  “working with the Galapagos National Park Service,  the Sirenian apprehended three commercial fishing vessels inside the Marine Reserve,  and a fourth was seized by a Park Service patrol vessel.”

Boarding one of the fishing boats,  the Dilsum,  O’Hearn said the Sea Shepherds “found 300 sharks who had just been caught inside the 40-mile protected area.  While the inspection was taking place, a second boat,  the Gaviota,  was spotted trying to flee.  Only after the Sirenian fired a warning shot and rammed into the Gaviota did it surrender.”

A Galapagos National Park Service patrol vessel meanwhile caught the San Antonia–whose crew included one Sergeant Calderon, of the Ecuadoran Navy.

“Elements of the Ecuadoran military immediately ordered two of the ships released without investigation,  fine,  or forfeiture,” O’Hearn said.

“It certainly looks to us as if the Ecuadoran Navy is bought by the fishing industry,”  added Watson.

The Sea Shepherds were more optimistic of winning a prosecution against the captain and owners of the Costa Rican longliner Puntarenas,  reportedly nabbed on March 22 while in possession of at least 40 illegally caught sharks and a large quantity of shark fins.


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