Coast Guard seizes two boats off Pacific coast this week for allegedly transporting tourists without permits

August 27, 2015
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Correction: The photo that originally appeared with this story, of the dive boat Orca IV, carried an erroneous caption stating that it was one of the boats seized this week by Coast Guard. It was not. In addition, the original version of this story incorrectly stated that three boats were seized this week by Costa Rican Coast Guard for allegedly transporting tourists with proper permits. In fact, only two boats were seized by Coast Guard officers for this reason.

The captain of a third boat, Orca IV, was taken into custody by authorities, who said he was wanted on murder charges. After The Tico Times received a complaint from the owner of the boat saying our reporting was inaccurate, the Public Security Ministry confirmed that although the captain was detained, he was released shortly afterwards.

We apologize for the errors.

UPDATE 2, Thursday, 01:47 p.m.:

The Tico Times spoke with the owner and captain of the Orca IV, Robert McDaniel, a retired sheriff from Florida and an ex-Marine. McDaniel, a dive specialist for the Marines, participated in several maritime investigations over the course of his career, and he says he’s less than impressed to find his boat’s name in the news this morning. The story, based off a report filed by Costa Rican Coast Guard officers and released publicly by the Public Security Ministry, was misconstrued along the evidence chain by officials, he claimed. The Tico Times contacted a ministry spokeswoman again, following the conversation with McDaniel. She said ministry press officials are looking into the matter. We will update the story as soon as we obtain further comments from the ministry.

As to the alleged murder charges against his Costa Rican captain, McDaniel said the man, surnamed Marchena, was held for 30 minutes before being released with an apology from officials.

UPDATE, Thursday, Aug. 27, 12:15 p.m.:

The company that owns and operates one of the boats in the original post below, and pictured above, the Orca IV, is disputing the information provided to The Tico Times by the Public Security Ministry. Ileana Brenes, of the company Oceans Unlimited, told us this morning that the Orca IV is not a fishing boat, but rather a dive boat and is legally registered to operate as such. She said the boat’s owner, Robert McDaniel, is a former U.S. sheriff and well known in the Quepos area. The company also has helped train local Coast Guard officers, Brenes said.

“The boat that appears on the cover of The Tico Times is not a sport fishing boat, and it clearly shows owner Robert McDaniel (captain of the Orca IV), who is a retired sheriff from the U.S., and it is neither illegal nor is he “wanted for murder.” In the photo also appears a man who has provided Scuba training to Coast Guard officers in the region,” Brenes wrote in an email.

According to Brenes, the temporary seizure of the Orca IV and the allegation that its Costa Rican captain, with the last name Marchena, is wanted on murder charges, is a “massive misunderstanding” by officials. She said Marchena was quickly released after a brief detention.

“We have worked hard to establish this company in the region and promote ourselves as a legitimate business,” she said. “All of our paperwork is in order.”

The Tico Times contacted a spokeswoman from the Public Security Ministry Thursday morning to respond to the company’s comments. That spokeswoman said the ministry’s statement on the seizures is based on reports from the Coast Guard. Any doubts regarding the veracity of those reports should be directed to the Public Security Ministry press office, she said. We will update this story as more information becomes available.

Original post continues here:

Three small fishing boats — two of them illegally transporting tourists — have been seized in Pacific waters so far this week by Costa Rican Coast Guard officers.

The Public Security Ministry (MSP) in a news release said the Coast Guard had increased patrols along the Pacific coast in recent days following reports of several small fishing boats offering trips to tourists without a valid permit.

Commercial and artisanal fishing boats usually do not have the infrastructure for transporting additional passengers. They often lack minimum security measures, like lifejackets for all passengers and radios for emergency communication. Many don’t have any insurance policy.

One of the boats seized was transporting 18 tourists near Tambor Bay on the Nicoya Peninsula. The boat’s owner showed officers a navigation permit for a different boat. The boat in use did not display the boat’s name or registration number and the engines weren’t the same as those described in the license, according to the Coast Guard report.

Another boat identified as Capitán Walker was abandoned by its captain in front of Tortuga Island in the Gulf of Nicoya. The official report says the captain jumped into the water and ran toward the beach as soon as he noticed the Coast Guard speedboat.

Neither of these boats had authorization to be in the areas where they were seized. Both were taken to the Coast Guard station in the Port of Caldera.

Coast Guard officers noted that boats like the ones seized generally can only navigate safely within three miles of the coastline, however some have been detected up to 26 miles offshore, frequently transporting passengers beyond their capacity.

In May, four people died off Golfito, in the southern Pacific, when the fishing boat they were on capsized, apparently because it was overloaded, Coast Guard reported at the time.

A third vessel (see update above) transporting two tourists was seized Wednesday off Quepos, in the central Pacific, after a Coast Guard inspection found that the boat’s captain was wanted by a criminal court in Osa on murder charges. The man, who’s last name is Marchena, was taken to a local Judicial Investigation Police precinct.

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