Sea Shepherd Galapagos raised awareness among key decision-makers in environmental law enforcement
On Friday, November 22, 2013, Sea Shepherd Galapagos presented the Spanish-Portuguese version of the video Fiscales y protección de tiburones (prosecutors and shark protection) at the Fifth Latin-American Congress of Environmental Prosecutors, held in Bogotá, Colombia.
The Congress was organized by the Latin-American Environmental Prosecutor’s Network (Red Latinoamericana de Ministerios Públicos Ambientales), whose aim is to facilitate communication and exchange of experiences among public officers and in the field of environmental law enforcement. The Network is comprised of more than one hundred prosecutors from 19 Latin-American countries.
In Latin America, the Ministerio Público is the equivalent to the Attorney General’s Office in the United States. Many Latin-American countries have recently established specialized Environmental Units within their Ministerios Públicos, to better fight against environmental crimes. The members of the Network are part of such units. They are public officers charged with law enforcement functions, representing the public on environmental penal and civil cases.
The members of Red are fundamental decision-makers to environmental law enforcement, including marine issues. Hence, the presentation of the video at their Congress was a very important opportunity to raise awareness about the threats to shark protection, namely overfishing and shark finning, an act considered an environmental crime in most Latin-American laws.
The video was shown to an audience of more than 130 prosecutors from 17 countries, all of them bordering the Pacific or the Atlantic Oceans, as well as the Caribbean Sea. The video is of regional reach, and presents sharks as a perfect model of evolution and explains their vital role in maintaining a healthy balance in the oceans. It also explains the importance of including shark habitats in marine protected areas and shows the threats faced by sharks, namely finning. It ends by highlighting the role of environmental prosecutors in enforcing laws and treaties on shark protection.
The video was received with much enthusiasm by the audience. Among them were prosecutors from the Colombian Environmental Unit which, last year, prosecuted a penal case on shark finning and, ultimately, achieved the first conviction in the country and the region, and one of the very few worldwide. That landmark conviction has set an important judicial precedent on shark protection.
More than 900 copies of the video were distributed at the Congress to help the prosecutors spread the message of the need for enforcement of shark protection laws.
Through the video, Sea Shepherd Galapagos aimed to bring the oceans to every prosecutor’s office in an effort to raise awareness about the important role of law enforcement in protecting sharks.
Sea Shepherd Galapagos produced the video for the Latin-American Environmental Prosecutor’s Network, in collaboration with UGENA. We are grateful to all who have helped in achieving this two-year effort, including UGENA´s video producer Jeff Litton; Silvia Cappelli, President of the Latin-American Environmental Prosecutor’s Network; Hugo Echeverria, Gunther Reck, Vania Tuglio, Randall Arauz, Michael Goldschlager and Luciano Furtado-Loubet. Special thanks to Alex Cornelissen, director of Sea Shepherd Galapagos.
Sea Shepherd will soon produce an English version of the video in order to reach an even wider audience.