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Captain Paul Watson exonerated after 17 years!

After nearly two decades of legal wrangling with the Costa Rican authorities, the face of Sea Shepherd – Captain Paul Watson– has seen a ruling handed down by the San José Court of Appeal, which dismisses all charges against him. This brings to a close a dispute that has lasted 17 years and cancels the
Published: March 14, 2019 - 20:17
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 17:57
Captain Paul Watson exonerated after 17 years!

After nearly two decades of legal wrangling with the Costa Rican authorities, the face of Sea Shepherd – Captain Paul Watson– has seen a ruling handed down by the San José Court of Appeal, which dismisses all charges against him. This brings to a close a dispute that has lasted 17 years and cancels the international letter of indictment.

The beginning of the dispute dates back to the spring of 2002, when the ship ‘Ocean Warrior’ under the command of Captain Watson was heading to Costa Rica at the invitation of the government there. Sea Shepherd was invited to sign a cooperation agreement to help protect the world-renowned marine sanctuary on Cocos Island.

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A year earlier, Sea Shepherd ‘delivered’ the Ecuadorian-flagged vessel ‘San Jose’ to the rangers of Cocos Island National Park, whose crew had been caught fishing illegally in the protected area of the island.

In 2002, the ‘Ocean Warrior’ encountered the Costa Rican vessel ‘Varadero 1’, whose crew was illegally fishing for sharks in Guatemalan territorial waters. After ‘Varadero 1’ ignored several requests to stop fishing, Captain Watson received permission from Guatemalan authorities to escort the vessel to the nearest port for arrest.

Following these events, the crew of “Varadero 1” filed several unfounded accusations against Paul Watson. This gave rise to a legal battle that gained great publicity and attracted the attention of the world, drawing a lot of criticism to the Costa Rican authorities for the legal action taken against one of the world’s most respected environmental activists. The whole situation was filmed and depicted in the film ‘Sharkwater’, made by the tragically deceased Canadian director Rob Stewart.

[blockquote style=”2″]”Thanks to the determination and persistence of our legal team, this case is now a thing of the past. I would like to thank the people of Costa Rica for their solidarity, the approach of their current government and especially the understanding and support of the Minister of Environment, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Echandi. Now it is time to look to the future and resume conservation efforts.” – said Captain Watson in a statement[/blockquote].

Source: seashepherd.com
Photo: Florin Alexiu

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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