Monday, November 21, 2011

Carlos Hiller - Production of a Cocos Island Masterpiece

Carlos Hiller, famed marine artist and dedicated conservationist 
created a special painting for the Sea Save Foundation fundraising
This video shows the work in progress. The scene captures the 
excitement and beauty of a cleaning station.  The Cocos adrenaline
rush is a product of a 360 degree awareness of everything happening.  
Large schools, cleaning stations, macro, pelagics, currents...  Carlos
has captured both the beauty and excitement that is Cocos Island.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fillmore - A Special Grean Sea Turtle Visiting Cocos Island

Jim Toomey Creation, Fillmore, Draws Attention to Tagging Program
Fillmore is a green sea turtle quipped with a Mark 10 satellite tag that shows his global position. These tags are extremely high tech: costing $5,000, they can last for over a year of continuous submersion! 
Fillmore is adventuring at Cocos Island National Park and his tag will show his swimpath around the island! 

Jim Toomey, the author of Sherman's Lagoon cartoon, is working closely with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project using his popular character Fillmore to illustrate the sea turtle's Cocos Island travels.

Currently, Filmore is swimming south and is nearing the 12 mile border of the Cocos Island protected area.  There he will encounter a deadly danger zone full of longline fishing hooks.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Carlos Hiller - Profile of an Artist and Conservationist

Carlos Hiller, at Cocos Island
Carlos Hiller is a man of restless energy,  and an unrelenting drive to get things done. It is apparent in the undertones of his soft voice, the steady of his piercing blue eyes, but most of all it can be seen in his art.

"I have two passions: art and the ocean. The majority of my art - all but three pieces, I think - are depictions, interpretations of the sea. It wasn´t one that came before the other, either. My love for the ocean has always manifested itself in my artwork, and my love for creating, for painting and sculpting, has always found a subject in the ocean.

I do a lot of education work, too. I take my two passions to schools in coastal communities, and try to generate an interest in the ocean, try to create a passion for the marine world. I go to these schools, and paint a mural of a marine scene. To get the kids involved, what I usually do is paint the background, the marine landscape, and a shark, or a whale, something big. And then I paint the outlines of a school of fish, and all of the kids get to paint these fish. And to accompany the mural painting event, we do educational workshops. We teach the kids marine biology, and the importance of marine conservation.

Carlos Hiller explains the relationship between the species portrayed in his mural

The students fill in the blank fish with their own artwork

We focus our energy on coastal communities, fishing communities, where fishing is as much a way of life as it is a source of income, where the same fishing methods have been used for decades. I focus my education and outreach efforts on these communities to create a genuine love for marine life in the next generation, in the youth of these towns. If we can reach the next generation, we can break the cycle of harmful fishing practices handed down from generation to generation. We can turn these communities into part of the solution, not part of the problem."

"Apart from my education efforts, I also donate a mural to a poor, coastal community in Costa Rica every year. I´m just trying to get the ocean in the eyes of the people, trying to show them that it is so much more than a flat horizon line, waves against the beach, a source of food. I´m trying to show the world just how beautiful and complex the underwater ecosystems are, trying to raise awareness, generate interest. At the very least, I feel like I´m doing something to better the poor communities in Costa Rica, making the spaces within those communities beautiful. But I think it has a larger impact than that. I hope it does.

Last year, I also donated the murals at Wafer Bay, the one of the whale shark and the cloud forest up in the main complex, and the underwater scene along the north and west walls of the Casa de Voluntarios.

That was one trip to Cocos Island. Counting this last one, there have been two others. This most recent one was primarily a diving trip. I took a lot of pictures, soaked up the experience. I plan on using the material from this trip for future paintings.

Friday, November 18, 2011

President Chinchilla sends official proposal to create a Marine Commission.

Delivering on it's commitment, the President Chinchilla officially responded to the campaign by the team of Leonora Jimenez, David Chacon, Andres Jimenez and Randall Arauz, on the official letter she presented a plan to form a committee to review the marine agencies of the country with the purpose of recommending actions to improve marine management. The plan was officially launched by the President on November 14, together with the Environment Minister Rene Castro. In the letter, the officials make clear that this government's commitment to marine resources is reflected in the National Development Plan 2011-2014, among whose goals is the management and promotion of fisheries and the development of a national plan for coastal and marine management, this Commission is thought to be very useful in reaching their goals.

In the executive summary the approach aims to create a Presidential Council, with a limit of three months to assess marine institutions. The same must diagnose, assess and recommend the necessary adjustments to the marine governance. "We consider is necessary to appoint a group of leaders and intellectuals to analyze marine institutions, hoping that from the results and the recommendations of this commission we can strengthen the institutions responsible for marine management and control of the country," Proclaim the proposal.

The document appoints the envioronmental lawyer Maria Virginia Cajiao Jimenez as the coordinator of the group, currently she is an advisor and coordinator of the National Environmental Council (presidential environmental council). Due to this position she will serve as the bridge to ensure communication and coordination with the Presidency of the Republic, the MINAET and other public institutions involved. The group is going to be integrated by an expert in oceanography or marine biology, a representative of government institutions, one of the artisanal fisheries sector and other industrial fishing sector, all of which have yet to be appointed.

"We consider of vital importance for the expert in biology or oceanography to be a leading academic from national universities. Alsofor the inclusion of a representative of high credibility among national NGOs, seeking greater equity among sectors represented in the commission as experience in different topics," said Andres Jimenez. "In addition in desire to avoid bias we expect for the represent of government institutions not to be from the Incopesca (from its name in Spanish translated to National Institute for fisheries and agriculture) otherwise we could unbalance the commission to the side of fisheries."

"We will be vigilant in the process, and report promptly to the civil society on the progress," said Randall Arauz.. "We are proposing to the Minister Castro to take us into account as a tool to link with the public."

"We are optimistic, as the President Chinchilla has shown great openness to the call of Costa Rican citizens who want better management of its precious marine resources," said Leo Jimenez. "We are killing the sea, and it is our responsibility and nobody else’s, to do something about it, and fight to demand reforms in the country's marine institutions we need."

Written by: Andres Jimenez

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Costa Rica’s Chinchilla agrees to form commission to review maritime agencies

Reprinted from / Clayton Norman

Among the agencies under presidential review is the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute, often criticized by environmental groups.
Noted international model Leo Jimenez and Cocos Island
activist, takes case to President Laura Chinchilla

President Laura Chinchilla announced Friday that she will form a commission of experts to analyze and review the government agencies in charge of regulating Costa Rica’s marine resources. Included among those agencies is the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca), which has long been criticized by environmentalists for failing to curb practices like shark finning, a multibillion-dollar industry that is depleting shark populations.

The announcement came after the president met with various marine conservation leaders and activists who presented to Chinchilla the case that despite some recent major strides in protecting marine resources, powerful interests in the commercial fishing industry have stymied deeper institutional reforms.

Andrés Jiménez, a biologist and environmental journalist who attended the meeting, said the problem lies in the fact that Incopesca’s board of directors, who are charged with managing the country’s fisheries, have significant personal interests in commercial fishing that don’t always line up with conservation.
“In the end they are judge and jury,” Jiménez said. “They have never made a decision regarding public resources that didn’t affect their personal interests or those of their partners in foreign fishing fleets, and that, without a doubt, is something unconstitutional.”

Shark finning in and around Costa Rican waters by foreign and sometimes Costa Rican boats continues to be a central issue in the conflict between Costa Rican activists and Incopesca. Costa Rica has made milquetoast overtures to cut down on the practice by making it illegal to unload shark fins at private docks in the country, but the practice itself, which involves slicing off the fins and throwing sharks back into the water to bleed to death, remains technically legal.

Shark fins are worth big bucks in Asian markets, where they may fetch upward of $40 per kilo before being made into soup with supposed aphrodisiacal qualities.

Last month, the government of Colombia detained two Costa Rican ships under suspicion of finning and killing more than 2,000 sharks in a marine sanctuary off that country’s coast.

Shark finning is a powerful impetus behind the desire for change in Costa Rica’s fisheries landscape, but not the only one. David Chacón, president of the the Tárcoles Fishermen’s Cooperative, also attended the meeting with Chinchilla to represent the interests of small-scale fishermen who don’t have the advantages of heavily industrialized fleets.

“The small-scale fishing sector is very interested in the development of responsible and sustainable fishing programs,” Chacón said. “Unfortunately, the politics of Incopesca never benefit us, even though there are many more of us than those represented on the board of directors of Incopesca.”
Chinchilla promised to present, within a week of next Monday, a plan for the formation of the commission and its duties.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thank you, Cocos Island Intern, William Henriques! We look forward to reading more of your blogs when you return in December!

Sea Save Foundation would like to say thank you and good luck to blog writer extraordinaire and intern, William Henriques. We have all enjoyed reading your wonderful blogs during your volunteer stay at Cocos Island. We look forward to your return in mid December!
‎"I've also gained a new outlook on conservation while here. Or, to more accurately describe it, a nagging suspicion that I've had about conservation philosophy has solidified into a conviction, a belief. And as much as it is a conservation... belief, it's more of a lifestyle belief: Each individual has a niche in the ecosystem surrounding them, each individual has role to fulfill in that ecological niche." - William Henriques - From his first blog entry. Read more here