Members of the glitterati are leveraging their star power to help the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and star of Animal Planet’s Whale Wars to avoid extradition to Costa Rica. Paul Watson is currently free on bail in Germany, awaiting court proceedings which could bring him back to respond to charges of reckless endangerment of a vessel at sea with intent to cause a shipwreck. That incident dates back to 2002.
According to environmental and celebrity site Ecorazzi, pro surfing legend Kelly Slater has officially joined the circle of celebrities rallying in support of Mr. Watson. An email cited by Ecorazzi from Mr. Slater explains that the championship surfer is concerned that increased connections and investments from China and Taiwan in Costa Rica essentially amount to hush money with regard to illegal practices such as irresponsible fishing and shark finning. Mr. Slater believes that this situation is exacerbated by a smokescreen provided by our country’s biodiversity and ecotourism industry.
Mr. Slater concludes with:
“If a light is shined on these [China and Taiwan] connections, their ability to pull secret levers of power will evaporate.”
Costa Rica severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan back in 2007, during the second Oscar Arias administration. The Costa Rica Star has recently touched on this subject on a report about China’s growing influence not just in our country, but also in Caribbean nations like the Bahamas, Dominica and Jamaica. Former President and Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias broke relations with Taiwan and courted the People’s Republic of China (PRC) during the 2008 Summer Olympics, after China had built extensive infrastructure to accommodate the Summer Games. Our new National Stadium is a gift from the PRC.
The Costa Rica Star has also reported on the recent trial of a Taiwanese boat captain who was caught with evidence of shark fin poaching in our Pacific coast last year. The ship arrest of the Fishing Vessel Hung Chi Fu took place in March of 2011 in Puntarenas. The crew of the FV Hung Chi Fu was busy offloading a catch of Hexanchus griesus, blunt-nosed grey sharks (also called cow sharks), which are abundant in the Pacific coast off Costa Rica. The H. griesus catch of the FV Hung Chi Fu was within legal limits, but it was also used to conceal a villainous catch of blue sharks with their fins hacked off. Captain Tsai Yu Jen will now have to pay 62 million colones, about $124,000.
Other celebrities who have vowed to support Mr. Watson in recent days include the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the iconic pinups the Barbi Twins, famous for their calendars and appearances in Playboy. One of Mr. Watson’s former wives, Lisa DiStefano, has also posed in Playboy magazine. Two vessels in Sea Shepherd’s fleet are named after film and television celebrities: French film beauty Brigitte Bardot and American television game host Bob Barker (from The Price is Right). Both Madame Bardot and Mr. Barker have contributed millions of dollars to the Sea Shepherd organization.
A recent in-depth look at the life of Mr. Watson printed by the esteemed Canadian publication McLean’s indicates that even musician Bryan Adams has joined the glitterati in support of Mr. Watson. The McLean’s profile ends with a quote from Canadian naturalist author and World War II veteran Farley Mowat about Mr. Watson:
“He’s the nearest thing I’ve ever had to hero.”