Welcome to our website, which I hope will provide you with a much improved understanding of the health and sustainability of our Toothfish (Chilean Seabass) stocks, along with a greater appreciation of the history of our unique fisheries in the Southern Ocean, and around the Antarctic continent.

COLTO was founded in 2003 by legal industry members to eliminate IUU fishing for toothfish, and improve sustainability of toothfish stocks.  At that time, estimates of IUU catches had been double the legal catches of toothfish – mainly being illegally taken from within national waters (Exclusive Economic Zones – EEZs).  Through the combined efforts of CCAMLR, Flag States, Port States, conservation NGOs and industry, those levels of IUU fishing inside national EEZs have been virtually zero since 2005.

Toothfish fisheries today provide a powerful example of how well effective collaboration and co-operation can work between legal industry, conservation groups, national governments, and an international conservation commission, CCAMLR.  This unique co-operation resulted in better fisheries resources management; sustainable catch levels set and adhered to for toothfish and bycatch species; virtual elimination of IUU fishing for toothfish; and significant benefits to ecologically related species, like seabirds.

Seabird mitigation measures from toothfish fisheries have become the global example for other fisheries to avoid accidental catches of seabirds. That’s because toothfish management explicitly takes into account not just the fish, but the ecosystems they live in, and other species they are linked with.

More than half the total global catches of toothfish are now independently certified as coming from sustainable and well managed fisheries by the Marine Stewardship Council, and/or are rated as ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.  This is in addition to the recognised precautionary management approach from CCAMLR, and is independent validation that the conservation measures taken in recent years have been successful at putting toothfish fisheries back onto a sustainable basis.

There are still some remaining IUU catches of toothfish on the high seas, away from legal fisheries, and outside the direct jurisdiction of Member nations of CCAMLR.  We’re continuing to collaborate with others to eliminate those vestiges of IUU fishing, and ensure that those fish are prevented from getting to any of the main markets.

We continue to work within the rigorous compliance measures devised in CCAMLR, including carrying full time government scientific observers on every fishing trip; satellite monitoring of every boat from the time it leaves port until it returns; numerous conservation measures; and a global electronic catch monitoring and documentation scheme that tracks legal product from our boats, right through to the restaurant.  These requirements ensure that you, the public, can be assured you’re eating only legally caught toothfish, from sustainably managed fisheries.

If you would like more information, or have any suggestions we can use to further improve our toothfish fisheries, I’d be pleased to hear them on email contact@colto.com.

Martin Exel
Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators