*******SupremeMasterTV**** – Shining World Hero Award: Randall Arauz and the Costa Rican Shark Fin Ban (In Spanish). Episode: 1750, Air Date: 30 June 2011.
Today’s Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants will be presented in Spanish and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.
Everywhere in the world, we can observe and be touched by acts of kindness. People from all walks of life, faiths, and cultures extend themselves beyond the call of duty to help others unconditionally. Through their noble deeds, humanity as a whole is elevated.
To commend virtuous actions and encourage more people to be inspired by their examples, Supreme Master Ching Hai has lovingly created a series of awards, including the Shining World Leadership Award, Shining World Compassion Award, Shining World Hero and Heroine Awards, Shining World Honesty Award, Shining World Protection Award, Shining World Intelligence Award, and Shining World Inventor Award, to recognize some of the most exemplary, generous, caring, and courageous people who walk amongst us.
Biologist Randall Arauz founded the marine conservation organization, PRETOMA, to save sea turtles. After a colleague on a long-line fishing boat shot some disturbing footage, everything changed.
The first time I saw the shark-finning video, I was just stunned. They hack off the fins, they throw the shark overboard. And I was speechless.
It was the catalyst that made us get into shark conservation.
The Association for the Restoration of Sea Turtles (PRETOMA) is a non-profit organization in Costa Rica devoted to protecting, preserving and restoring populations of sea turtles and sharks in the seas off the coast of Costa Rica.
In 1999, we were able to ban the killing of sea turtles in Costa Rica. Before that it was legal for 1,800 sea turtles to be slaughtered on the Atlantic Coast of Costa Rica. We brought this case to court, and we won, and since 1999, it has been an illegal activity
We also managed to stop the operation of tuna farms in Costa Rica, which is another kind of unsustainable marine exploitation. Last week, we managed to close the country's ports for foreign fleets that come here for shark finning.
Mr. Randall Arauz is a Costa Rican biologist, naturalist and conservationist who has received a number of awards during his career, including the 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize, known as the “Green Nobel Prize” and the 2010 Göteburg Award for Sustainable Development, the environmental honor most recognized in Europe, which Mr. Arauz received for his efforts to preserve ecosystems and marine species.
We've been working very hard on the creation of Marine Protected Areas, because in this case… the problem of fishing, the solution is really simple, we have to fish less or stop fishing. There are biologically very important areas for the species, where marine turtles breed, where sharks breed, different animals breed in the biological corridors (wildlife corridors).
Mr. Arauz began working mainly on turtle conservation and was shaken upon discovering the horrendous practice of shark finning during one of his marine studies.
We simply bumped into the problem of shark finning. We saw where they bring the sharks; they tore off their fins, threw the sharks back into the water and it was then that we realized it really is a problem of the ecosystem, not a problem unique to the turtle.
What we have here is a problem of overfishing, greed, and this is bringing an end to the turtles and the sharks. So we decided that, really as a first step, we had to end unsustainable fishing practices, and shark fishing for its fins is one of the worst practices that may exist. So we started on the task to at least expose what is happening in Costa Rica, and to try to influence global conservation policies and shark fishing.
In 2003, Mr. Arauz and a team of concerned PRETOMA members secretly filmed a ghastly incident in which a ship illegally landed 30 tons of shark fins in the middle of the night, and then bravely submitted the footage to the local media in an effort to help stop the horrific practice of shark finning that kills up to 100 million sharks globally each year.
When we came up with this video, we were able to tell the Costa Ricans, “Look, this is what’s going on. It’s happening right under our nose with the consent of our fishery authorities.”
Costa Ricans were shocked when they saw those videos. PRETOMAS’ awareness campaign led to many protests and congressional legislation, mandating that sharks must be landed with their fins naturally attached to their bodies. This progressive legislation has been recognized worldwide.
In recognition of the extraordinary courage shown by Randall Arauz and PRETOMA, for their kindness, perseverance and excellence in protecting our oceans and their inhabitants, and for promoting the sustainability of our planet´s fragile ecosystems, Mr. Arauz was honored with the Shining World Hero Award by Supreme Master Ching Hai.
During a ceremony held in San José, Costa Rica the beautiful Award plaque was presented to him on Supreme Master Ching Hai’s behalf by our local Association members. Supreme Master Ching Hai sent a loving and encouraging letter to Mr. Arauz, the following of which is an excerpt:
Dear Mr. Arauz, Being a turtle biologist and conservationist, you examined studies that provided you with valuable insight into the many hazards experienced by our marine life caused by negligence. While viewing a film on the latest fishing techniques, you unexpectedly discovered a gruesome scene – fishermen brutally hacking off the fins of living sharks!
Shocked by this inhumane act, you were determined to expose the needless cruel and painful torture of these ocean living beings. You secretly videotaped a film showing the illegal docking of a ship carrying 30 tons of shark fins, which meant an estimated 30,000 sharks had died for it, and released it to the media.
Your bold and heroic move garnered public outcry and won full support from the Costa Rican public and international community to enforce the country’s existing laws against shark finning. It successfully paved the way for the new fisheries law which came into effect in 2005 legally putting an end to this tragic ordeal. With utmost appreciation, we thank you for bringing our world a step closer towards harmonized co-existence with all sentient beings.
You truly deserve Sweden’s Göteborg Award for Sustainable Development. Congratulations! For your exceptional contribution to animal rights, for your heartfelt compassion and strength and for being a dedicated and noble role model, we hereby applaud and celebrate the heroic deeds of Sr. Randall Arauz, President of Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas.
With Great Honour, Love and Blessings, Supreme Master Ching Hai
Supreme Master Ching Hai contributed US$20,000 to PRETOMA to further their noble mission, with all her love and gratitude. She also provided the dedicated group many wonderful gifts including her #1 international bestsellers “The Birds in My Life,” “The Dogs in My Life” and “The Noble Wilds” along with other books such as “From Crisis to Peace,” lots of yummy vegan chocolates, some of her CDs and DVDs and a “Hero” t-shirt.
On behalf of all my colleagues at PRETOMA, whom with I share this honor, I would like to thank Master Ching Hai for this Award. The truth is that these have been very hard years; it was a very long campaign. We had a great victory last week, on Friday. Everything is such a coincidence that falls into its right place at the right moment. And everything is... really is surprising. We are very grateful for this gesture. And definitely, we are touched. It motivates us to keep going ahead.
We have grown a lot during the last years. We hope to keep growing. I have seen professional development also of a lot of colleagues here in the office. And this help from you is going to help us, continue with the work, to become stronger and try to end all this greed that exists nowadays with the exploitation of the sea, and try to achieve something more sustainable, and something more in peace with the oceans. Thanks a lot to everyone.
Mr. Arauz also discussed the organization’s goals for the future.
Well, we hope to continue growing. We look forward to having more and more political influence and that therefore depends on the quality of the science we do, the support that we have to do and the field work we do. That's why I especially thank Master Ching Hai, and all her collaborators here in Costa Rica, because this contribution, the aid that you are giving to us will allow us to continue to do our research, the marine areas that we are helping to take care and protect, tagging sharks, tagging sea turtles.
In general, the hardest thing for us is to get money to do our research. Research is very expensive, and this fund is going to be especially dedicated to conducting research, which is what gives us technical credibility when we go to ask for political changes. And, well, I would like to personally thank Master Ching Hai for her support. This is a great collaboration.
We will be in contact with you by sending our reports for you to see what we have achieved with this contribution, and we hope that we can develop a partnership with your association in the future. Thank you very much.
Our hats are off to Mr. Arauz and all the other members of PRETOMA for your courage and selfless dedication in exposing the horrors of shark finning and preserving marine turtles. May PRETOMA continue its wonderful conservation work and help even more animals in need.
We have to work harder in order for Costa Rica be a blue country to be a real model of promoting conservation of marine resources in the Eastern Pacific.
There are tremendous challenges in conservation work, and many people quit because they can’t face the incredible odds. Randall is one of the tireless fighters who is not afraid to fail and will not stop fighting until he dies.
Randall aligned himself with members of Congress and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to bring the Costa Rican shark finning policy to the United Nations.
And we were able to get the United Nations General Assembly to call on all the nations of the world to land their sharks with the fins attached. Randall has taken Costa Rica from being a leader in shark finning to being a global leader in shark preservation.
For more details on Mr. Arauz, please visit
Delightful viewers, thank you for your presence today on our program. Up next is Enlightening Entertainment after Noteworthy News. May our actions always grow on the foundation of love.