5. July 2014 admin

When the hunters attack each other, the loot wins

Due to recent events – Sharkproject informs:

When the hunters attack each other, the loot wins

Imagine: several predators chase a prey animal and their alimentation depends on whether they eat the prey. But the predators do not only chase their common goal, but also try to bite their competitors throughout the whole chase in order to weaken them so that they can no longer keep up. As an effect, all hunters are slower due to the distraction, which allows the prey to escape. The hunters stay hungry.

Evolutionary, such hunting technique would not prevail, so there is no such situation in nature.

But that does not prevent people to again act against nature, against evolution:

Conservation organizations, as one would expect, should collaborate, communicate and exchange ideas. It may not be conducive to the common goal, when energy is spent to weaken each other. The one who understands evolution of the survival of the fittest in this sense, did not understand it at all. No organization is the measure of things, no organization alone could solve the enormous task which is the protection of species on our beautiful planet.

Nevertheless, we are witnessing just that. Garnished with personal attacks (which is known to automatically weaken any serious criticism) SHARKPROJECT is being accused of being uninformed and of having been lulled by and in Costa Rica.

We counter the criticism concerning this case: We are neither uninformed nor have we been lulled.

Fundament of the conferment of the award “SHARKPROJECT GUARDIAN of the Year 2013” to the President of Costa Rica, Mrs Laura Chinchilla Miranda, are the positive events in Costa Rica over the past months. The story is in fact slightly more complex:

More than 10 years ago, at the beginning of the long fight which SHARKPROJECT has fought together with PRETOMA (the Costa Rican shark protection), we made the first films about the machinations of the finning mafia in the private docks of Puntarenas at all. Together with PRETOMA we organized demonstrations, pressed criminal charges – but we fought against a wall of corruption, against an overwhelming shark fin lobby. Despite all protests, Costa Rica remained the main hub for shark fins.

But we did not give up. We funded and showed TV spots, and we voted the former President of Costa Rica, Abel Pacheco de la Espriella, “SHARKPROJECT SHARK ENEMY of the Year 2006” – combined with a full-page ad in the largest daily newspaper in the country, “La Nación”. Afterwards, it became quite heavy for ourselves when the first threatening letters and harassments reached us in Germany.

Since we did not let ourselves be impressed, we continued our fight, though almost hopeless in the face of the obvious power of the opposite side. In this phase, Gerhard Wegner’s novel “Finning”, which starts in Costa Rica, and in which the machinations of finning mafia are told along with many personal experiences, was created. With the money from the book’s sales we kept continuing the seemingly hopeless fight in Costa Rica.

Then Mrs. Chinchilla Miranda was elected president of Costa Rica. Against fierce opposition, she closed the private docks in 2010.The finning industry reacted quickly and started importing the fins from that moment on through Nicaragua – everything remained the same, only the route became longer.

Conjoined with PRETOMA, SHARKPROJECT reacted with a great action – we published a full page ad in the newspaper “La Nación” including with our campaign and a petition list. Hereafter, the President surprised again when she personally handed over a completed petition list, with signatures which her son had collected at school to Randall Arauz, President of PRETOMA.

She showed that she had understood and one year later, on December 1st, 2012, she also followed up on her promise to entirely prohibit the import of shark fins in Costa Rica. Therefore, the import through Nicaragua and other countries has been stopped as well.

As Costa Rica then announced to make applications for and to support the protection for hammerhead sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks and manta rays at the upcoming CITES meeting, the constant positive change in the government of a country that we had declared the shark enemy of the year in 2006 was from our point of view crucial for a nomination for the “SHARKPROJECT GUARDIAN of the Year 2013“.

Along with the award ceremony a few days ago, “El Aleteo”was presented, the Spanish edition of the novel “Finning”, which can now be acquired in Costa Rica. The proceeds from the sale of this anti-finning novel supports the further work of the organization PRETOMA. Their current campaign is directed against the tradional consumption of shark meat in the country. Next to us, the Costa Rican President is once again supporting this campaign.

In addition, in her acceptance speech at the award ceremony, Mrs Chinchilla Miranda promised a further change in the law, in order to ensure the sustainable reproduction of the animals.

We see all of this as a whole and as an incredible change of Costa Rica, mainly brought about by Mrs Chinchilla Miranda. The struggle in Costa Rica is far from being over, but the positive changes are obvious. This is also the opinion of those on the spot who deal with the matter. Doubters may contact Randall Arauz, President of the internationally award-winning organization PRETOMA. Together with Gerhard Wegner, he handed over the award on November 27th, 2013. He is as well our witness that we are not an “obscure” organization that does not exactly know what it does.

This new award ceremony has not been conducted blindfold at all, especially after the one in 2006. We have rather intensively been observing the changes in Costa Rica over three years before we awarded the prize – and we did not observe from a distance, but in fact locally over and with PRETOMA.

The “SHARKPROJECT GUARDIAN of the Year 2013” was then handed over to two people with the same goals and the same subject – namely the change in Costa Rica:The President of the country and the entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. The parallely awarded “SHARKPROJECT ENEMY of the Year 2013 “by the way went to Colin Barnett, the Premier of Western Australia, for the government-sponsored call to hunt sharks.

Of course the shark protection is not yet perfect in Costa Rica. We do know the situation on the ground through many years of shared work with the organization PRETOMA, which we support. We know that there are counter movements, attempts to creep in, corruption and other illegalities in Costa Rica. We are not blind.

By the way: The award went to Ms. Chinchilla Miranda, not to the State of Costa Rica or to all its inhabitants. The prize was at no time awarded to someone who belongs to the finning mafia. The distorted representation of the critics concerning this point speaks for itself – and against the critics.

The prize awarded to the President is also in no way intended as a charter or closing communique – which has also been accentuated. Of course we still observe the development precisely and critically.

But we also know about the currently existing powerlessness of authorities around the conservation area Cocos Island from our own experiences and observations. There is still a lot of work left to do.

In our opinion this does not mean that we – like those who attack us – defame the government of Costa Rica as corrupt backers of the finning mafia just because there is currently no all-encompassing effective enforcement of good laws. What is actually expected here? Is Costa Rica supposed to invest billions in building a Navy to position armed warships all over the sea in order to arrest fishing boats? Anyone who seriously expects or demands this may never accuse others of having a problem with feasibility or reality.

The government of San José has set important steps by passing bills in order to stop the extermination of sharks. This is to be honored, and we stick with that. Handing the award over to the President was and is still the right thing to do.

The passed criticism on us is vociferous, but after closer examination attests to a bottomless ignorance. From our point of view, it is definitely the best way to accolade and support anyone who seriously tries hard, in order to motivate him on the right track – not to grossly stifle any attempt by condemning it already on the way, because some expected success is still missing. We are also quite confident that this interpersonal approach is not only pedagogically the right thing to do.

SHARKPROJECT is not militant, neither in action nor in words. We do not want to become entangled in further discussions. We will instead spend our time and energy on more important matters.

For there is truly enough left to do.

SHARKPROJECT International e.V.
President: Gerhard Wegner
Vice-President: Christine Gstöttner
Vice-President: Christine Staacks

President: Dr. Walter Buchinger
Vice-President: Helmut Wipplinger
Vice-President: Elisabeth Buchinger

President: Gerhard Wegner
Vice-President: Heiner Endemann
Vice-President: Wolfram Koch

SHARKPROJECT Switzerland e.V.
President: Nicole Blumenthal
Vice-President: Alex Smolinsky


Download this Press Release Statement (pdf, ca. 320 kB): click here.