Capt. Paul Watson was headed to Costa Rica to sign an agreement to protect the waters round Isla del Coco when his ship had a confrontation with a shark-fishing vessel.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society disclosed this on its Web site, and it reported that the organization would like to work with Costa Rica to defend sharks and other marine species. Watson was said to believe that his legal problem in Germany offers some very positive opportunities to reestablish Sea Shepherd as a cooperative partner with the rangers of Coco, the organization said.
Still Sea Shepherd said it will continue to work to urge Germany to decide to end extradition proceedings there. Costa Rica can also make the decision to withdraw the extradition, it added.
Watson is facing trial in Costa Rica over the claims by the shark fishermen that their boat, the “Varadero I,” suffered damages and crew members suffered injuries in the run-in with Watson and the much larger “Ocean Warrior.” A quote attributed to Watson calls these claims absurd:
“If Costa Rica believes that there is a need to put me on trial over the absurd accusations of these fishermen we caught poaching sharks, then I am
prepared to cooperate with the judicial system to present our video evidence, our logbooks, and our crew as witnesses to those events. Costa Rica needs only to assign a date for a trial, and I will appear before the Costa Rican Court voluntarily, if given assurances that my safety will be guaranteed. There is no need for an extradition or preventive arrest. All Costa Rica needs to do is make a request to appear.”
The extradition is to insure that Watson shows up. Costa Rican prosecutors already have seen the video of the encounter between the two boats. They studied it a day or two after the 2002 encounter.
Costa Rican judicial workers announced a trial for Watson in 2006, but Watson told a reporter that he had not been notified. He had posted bail shortly after the incident.
Watson’s organization said that Sea Shepherd was scheduled to sign an agreement with Costa Rica to work closely with the rangers the same way Sea Shepherd works with the rangers and the police of Ecuador in the Galapagos. Watson said he was working at the request of Guatemalan officials when he tried to curtail shark fishing there by the “Varadero I.”
Watson met last week in Stuttgart, Germany, with Enrique Castillo, Costa Rica’s foreign minister, to discuss the arrest and extradition request.