Open letter to HRH, the Prince of Wales

15th May 2015

His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales
Clarence House
London, SW1A 1BA

To His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales

Open letter

Dear Sir,

The Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators, who represent over 90% of the world’s toothfish catch, would like to thank you for your concerns raised in October 2004, about Patagonian toothfish fisheries, and the threat to Albatross in the Southern Ocean from illegal fishing.   Your letter to the then Minister of State for Environment and Agri-Environment, Elliot Morley, was clear, succinct, and to the point in requesting action at eliminating illegal toothfish fishing, and saving albatross.

As a result of your letter, and similar concerns from industry, conservation groups, scientists and government agencies at the time, I can advise that Illegal fishing for toothfish has dropped by over 95% in the past decade.   This has also substantively protected albatross species at threat from those illegal operations, as you correctly identified.

The cooperation from all stakeholders to achieve elimination of illegal toothfish fishing has resulted  in fisheries with the world’s best results in seabird bycatch mitigation, and has reduced the incidental bycatch of albatross and other seabirds in toothfish fisheries to what the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) describes as “near-zero levels”.


Further, your letter and actions by the UK government at the time, were important in galvanizing global action against illegal toothfish fishing and, as a result, the majority of global toothfish fisheries are now clear of illegal fishing, and sustainably managed.

I am pleased to advise that independent scientific review by the Marine Stewardship Council has certified over 65% of the world’s toothfish catch as sustainable and well managed, and the remaining fisheries are recovering rapidly from the peak illegal fishing activities, which threatened both toothfish and albatross populations.

In addition, in the United States, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program scientists now also rate over 65% of toothfish fisheries as either a ‘Best Choice’ or a ‘Good Alternative’ fish protein, following elimination of illegal fishing, along with proven measures to protect the threatened species of albatross and other seabirds.

Thank you for your interest in ensuring sustainable, healthy populations of toothfish can continue to exist, as well as ensuring populations of albatross are not impacted by fishing activities.

It is with great pride that we can report success at achieving both of your goals – to eliminate illegal toothfish fishing, and to report zero incidental deaths of albatross from commercial fishing.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Exel

(downloadable PDF)