Illegal Fishing: 21St-Century Pirates Plunder Costa Rica's Treasures

"It's just after dawn and on the gleaming Pacific Ocean, 365 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, the hunt is on for pirates. But these 21st-century buccaneers are looting the treasure beneath the waves, not the gold and silver coins buried long ago on Cocos Island a few miles away.

Cocos, the remote emerald tip of a towering underwater mountain range which was the setting for the fictional Isla Nublar in the novel Jurassic Park, has served as a pirate hideaway, whaling station, penal colony and a pit stop for Colombian drug runners. It is the most shark-rich island on Earth and its underwater flanks serve as a nursery for myriad marine species, many unique.

But these extraordinary riches are being plundered by illegal fishing, with many sharks, rays, turtles and mantas among the devastating collateral damage of longline tuna fishing. It is part of a global illegal fishing crisis worth $10-23bn a year that results in 100m sharks killed every year."

Damian Carrington reports for the Guardian May 8, 2014.

Friday, May 9, 2014