About Us

Welcome to our website, which we hope will provide you with a much improved understanding of the health and sustainability of the world’s toothfish stocks, along with a greater appreciation of the history of our unique fisheries in the southern oceans, and around the Antarctic continent.

The Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators (COLTO) was founded in 2003 by legal industry members to eliminate Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing of Toothfish, and to ensure the long term sustainability of Toothfish resources, and the rich and critical biodiversity of the southern oceans.

At that time, IUU catches were double the legal catches of Toothfish – mainly being illegally taken from within national waters (Exclusive Economic Zones).  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.

This unique co-operation resulted in better fisheries resource management by scientifically assessing and closely monitoring sustainable catch levels for Toothfish and bycatch species; eliminating IUU fishing and the distribution of IUU caught Toothfish; and reducing seabird mortality to near zero levels.

The strategies developed in Toothfish fisheries to protect vulnerable albatross and other Antarctic seabird populations have now been applied globally in many other fisheries, and have led to a truly dramatic reduction of seabird mortalities associated with fishing.  COLTO Members have also initiated, and are funding, cutting edge research into reducing whale depredation, and also participate in a variety of research projects, delivering valuable inputs to Antarctic science.

The majority of the world’s Toothfish catch is independently certified as coming from sustainable and well managed fisheries by the Marine Stewardship Council, and are recommended 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 and management measures taken in recent years have been successful at putting Toothfish fisheries back onto a sustainable basis.

COLTO’s membership has broadened to include our supply chain partners, and we continue to co-operate energetically with a range of supportive parties to weed out any remnant IUU operators, and deter those who may consider illegal operations.

COLTO remains protective of the reputation established by its Members, for responsible fishing methods, sustainable management, scientific support and co-operation, and elimination and deterrence of IUU activities.  Our Members are committed to remain energetic and vigilant in protecting and building on what has been achieved.

We continue to work within the rigorous compliance measures devised in CCAMLR, including carrying full time government-approved 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 toothfish product from our boats, right through to the restaurant or fish monger.  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 at contact@colto.org.

Richard Ball
Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators

14 November 2016