San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Marine conservation

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio talks about illegal fishing in Costa Rica's Cocos Island

Costa Rica’s Cocos Island, known as the “most beautiful” island in the world, served as as dramatic illustration for actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio’s call for greater protection of the oceans and marine life Tuesday, during a speech at the Our Oceans conference in Washington, D.C.

DiCaprio, an avid diver, has swam in some of the world’s best known dive spots, including the Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands. The “Titanic” star said that diving has allowed him to see firsthand the challenges facing marine wildlife and habitat:

“And just last year, I got to visit Cocos Island, a national park off the shores of Costa Rica, where I had the opportunity to swim with 15 different species of shark – white tips, tiger sharks, and hammerheads – in one of the world’s largest natural shark sanctuaries, and I came out unscathed. … Recently on the Cocos Island dive, we stayed inside a marine-protected area where it was technically illegal to hunt sharks or other marine life within 10 miles of the sanctuary, but every night we hopelessly watched illegal fishing vessels invade the waters just one mile offshore.”

DiCaprio highlighted the lack of enforcement in protected areas around the world, including his experience in Cocos Island, in his remarks.

“Unfortunately today, there’s no proper law enforcement capacity and little accountability for violating the law. It’s the Wild West on the high seas,” the Hollywood activist said.

Illegal fishing at Cocos Island, especially of sharks, remains a pressing issue in Costa Rica, as The Tico Times has previously reported.

Before leaving office, former President Laura Chinchilla (2010-2014) signed a decree in April dedicating resources for the Costa Rican Coast Guard to patrol the 3,700 square-mile Underwater Mountain Marine Management Area that encompasses the park and surrounding seas. Costa Rica recently completed a radar station on the remote national park with financial assistance from the U.S. State Department that authorities hope will help deter and catch illegal fishermen in the protected waters.

DiCaprio pledged that his eponymous foundation would donate $7 million to ocean conservation projects during the next two years. Word of the contribution came on the heels of an earlier announcement that the actor’s charity would donate $3 million to the organization Oceana in support of its efforts to protect sharks, marine mammals and ocean habitat in the Eastern Pacific.

President Barack Obama announced a proposal Tuesday at the event that would create be the world’s largest marine sanctuary, doubling the area of ocean globally that is fully protected.

Watch Leo’s full speech here:

Contact Zach Dyer at

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Tep Duncan Ratima

Put our navy to the task and monitor our protected areas and support Sea Sheppard Groups who physically chase and hinder these illegal fisherman and bring them to heal on so many levels in regards to our oceans.

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Steven Crane

Gracias senor Decapprio ! Que quires soloution Ben ? De mundial seas ! Que?

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Enry Luis Chacon Cordero

I really like the titanic you’re a big star

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Enry Luis Chacon Cordero

wonderful person big world star player hopefully one day come to our land and costarica what he wants and this natural paradise that God gifts us to see the wonders of God and God bless agel in the land of god

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Martim Filho

Após festa regada a muita grana e com um mal gosto exemplar aqui no Brasil, Di Carprio dá uma de bom moço regado a sal do mar, acho dificil. Levou grana para isso, pois cabeça ele demonstrou que nao tem.

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Shawn Larkin

Whats your plan for the Ocean Ben? More troll babble?

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Another US citizen telling Costa Rican s what to do.

NOW we have Paul Watson and Leonardo Dicaprio telling Costa Ricans how to live and run there country. These US citizens should worry about there own country first. I am so tried of US citizens tell Costa Rican how to live.

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Karolyn Ortega

Ben are you serious this is not a Costarican vs USA problem, this is everyone’s problem, and do you think that our government (and I mean Costa Rica’s) has the funds, experience and resources to deal with this threat. We need to put our “nationalism” aside and work together to protect not only our waters but also all those around the world. Stop talking out of your a$$.

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Andy Snyder


What are you advocating then? Do you want Chinese longliners and those of other nations going into YOUR COUNTRY’S TERRITORY and RAPING the natural resources? Is that what you are saying?

Did you know that pretty much all of the Costa Rican Coast Guide are outfitted with old 82′ Point Class US Coast Guard cutters that were given to Costa Rica? I know this because I served in the U.S. Coast Guard for around 23 years of my life. I wasn’t stationed on one of those High Endurance or Medium Endurance Cutters that you might see in Limon, Punta Arenas or Golfito but spent most of my career as a pollution investigator, boarding officer and fishing vessel examiner.

Ben, are you just out of your mind with hate for the United States? It seems that way.

Now, what would suggest that Costa Rica do about the illegal fishing off of Cocos Island, one of the shining jewels of your country. Stop belly aching and tells us YOUR SOLUTION, Ben!

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Andy Snyder

Typo….I meant Costa Rican Coast Guard not Guide

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