Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cocos Island Repeat Offenders - Georgienne Bradley

Cocos Island is not only a Costa Rica National Park, she is also a World Heritage Site.  Inclusion in this prestigious UNESCO list signifies that Cocos is of vital importance and holds irreplaceable value to the international community.

Fins hanging from fishing boat
Above water the island is pristine and dramatic.  Endemic flora and fauna and dramatic cliffs and waterfalls etch her landscapes.  Underwater, Cocos Island boasts a still robust ecosystem complete with many apex predators, and the fishermen know this.  Mainland coastal waters have been depleted.  Fishermen, hungry for work cross the 350 miles of often treacherous Pacific Ocean to harvest sharks and other large marine animals from one of the final healthy marine environs on earth.  What will happen when this area is also depleted?  We will not even have the seeds to reestablish other currently lost coastal fisheries.  Allowing poaching to occur at Cocos Island and at other Marine Protected Areas is myopic and there must be a zero tolerance for these activities.

Cocos Island park guards face many obstacles as they try to contain illegal fishing.  Frustration and apathy are certainly among other more concrete challenges.  Guards must patrol at night in small boats, fishermen cast their longlines on the windward side of the island and park guards must travel far to monitor  radar and track the poachers, fishing boats greatly outnumber the patrol vessels and while pursing one poacher, opportunistic fishermen seize the chance to cast their nets and so the mess continues.  It costs over $1,200 in fuel costs alone to run one patrol boat through the night.  

Below is a list of boats that have been caught within the protected area of Cocos Island World Heritage Site.  This is only the tip of the iceberg as many, many other boats are fishing within boarders everyday.  During my recent stay, we detected an average of twelve boats per day fishing illegally, some only a mile or so from the park station.

Many of these boats are on record as multiple offenders, yet they have not paid a fine, or spent a day in jail.  From their perspective, there is little reason why these fishermen should not continue to break the law, and that is exactly what they are doing every day.





Fishing Boats Caught Poaching Jan - Sept 2011
Boat Name
Registration
Total
Chaday I
P-10262
11
Alamacori II
P-10768
1
Franju III
 P-5163
8
Albatros
P-4506
17
Shekina II
 P-10294
7
Franju II
P-4519
6
Isamar
P-4677
6
Coopepez XX
P-205
7
Coopepez XIII 
P-122
4
Susan
P-6351
3
Jose Carlo II 
PQ-8577
1
ISAMAR II
 P-10294
1
Shekina 

1
Rey de reyes
PQ-7851
3
María Fernanda
P-11635
5
Escorpión
PQ-5328
1
Ana Aurora
 P-2204
1
Alexander II 
P-11801
3
Vikingo II
 PQ-2547
4
Buitre IV

1
María Paula
P-11883
1
Capitán Tony 
P-4997
2
Santa Cruz
P-94
1
Intrépido
P-6404
2
María Bonita

1
Dukike
P-7388
1
Margarita
P-4639
1
Doña Helen 
P-2507
1
Franju I
 P-6276
1
Oliver
PQ-4059
1

No comments: