Skip to comments.Fugitive Ship Chased In And Out Of Ice
Posted on 08/19/2003 6:53:51 PM PDT by blam
Fugitive ship chased in and out of the ice
Wednesday August 20, 2003
The Guardian (UK)
The hunt for the fishing vessel suspected of catching several million pounds worth of endangered Patagonian toothfish took an extraordinary twist yesterday when the Australian customs vessel Southern Supporter pursued it into the Antarctic icefloes, then had to help it navigate out to avoid a full-scale rescue operation. The Uruguayan-registered Viarsa then sped off again.
As the chase continued after more than 2,500 miles in some of the world's heaviest and coldest seas, the Australian government said it intended to scuttle the Viarsa if its owners were convicted of illegal fishing.
"The intention is to seize the Viarsa [and] bring it back to Australia where charges will be laid. If the [owners] are found guilty the boat will be sunk to become a maritime reef," its London embassy said.
More than half a dozen countries, including Britain and the US, have promised Australia their support, including assistance if the Viarsa enters their waters.
But the the helicopter-equipped Antarctic research and supply ship SA Agulhas, which the South African government promised to send to join the pursuit, was reported last night not to have set off.
The Australian justice and customs minister, Chris Ellison, said yesterday: "By now, it should be pretty clear to the Viarsa that its best course of action is to stop trying to outrun our patrol vessel."
The decision to pursue the Viarsa highlights the increasing anger in the southern hemisphere that northern countries have over-fished their own waters and are turning to the south for more fish.
The Viarsa is one of at least 70 international boats believed to be illegally fishing for the valuable, increasingly rare and slow-maturing Patagonian toothfish.
It has already been fished out in other waters and the search is now concentrated in the Southern Ocean south of Australia. According to the World Conservation Union, many boats have moved south from Europe after a decline in their catches. The Viarsa's owners are believed to have Spanish connections.
The latest reports from the Southern Supporter confirm that the weather and sea conditions continue to be icy and difficult.
Oh, I don't know - seems to be working so far ;0)
They are about $8.00 a pound and are also known as Chilean Sea Bass. Here's what you do with them.
Eminently seaworthy she is...
Just for the info.
The modern story of the Patagonian Toothfish is the current environmental disaster in the Southern Ocean. Patagonian Toothfish is being harvested illegally at a rate two to five times the legal catch limits. Current estimates put total collapse of the fishery within five years and possibly as soon as two years. CCAMLR has made a valiant attempt to pull all Toothfish trade into accountable legal strems with a Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS), but with many of the trading nations remaining non-signatories to CCAMLR, regulation is difficult at best. Recent report shows that this year's illegal catch is continuing unabated. The main importers of Patagonian toothfish are Japan and the USA, where a single sashimi-grade fish can fetch up to US$1000; if the CDS can regulate the markets of these two countries it will excercise great control. However, pirate fishing and black markets thrive, landing an estimated two to five times the legal toothfish catch. The dire reality is that this fishing gold rush won't last the decade, leaving another commercial, and possibly ecological extinction in its wake. If that isn't bad enough, the illegal fishing kills thousands of seabirds by taking no precautions against bycatch - CCAMLRs Scientific Committee estimates that over the last three years, as many as 191,700 seabirds have been hooked and drowned as bycatch on pirate longlines in the CCAMLR area alone. This breaks down to 46,500 albatross, 7,200 giant petrels and 138,000 white-chinned petrels. Sadly, the true figure may be several times this figure. Such levels are unsustainable for these species, according to the Scientific Committee. Read about perils to seabirds of the Southern Ocean.
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