12 August 2003
COLTO seeks support of Uruguayan Government to halt flight of suspected illegal toothfish boat
The Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators (COLTO) today called on the Uruguayan Government to assist Australian authorities in apprehending an alleged illegal toothfish fishing boat, the Viarsa. The toothfish longline boat, the Viarsa, is being pursued by an Australian government fisheries patrol vessel, which allegedly sighted the Viarsa fishing illegally for toothfish inside Australian and CCAMLR waters late last week.
COLTO spokesman Tim Reddell from South Africa today welcomed the positive actions being taken by Australia to deter illegal toothfish fishing from its Exclusive Economic Zone around Heard Island, and underscored the level of problem that legal toothfish operators face in trying to eliminate illegal fishing operations.
“Illegal fishing for toothfish in areas under international management and jurisdiction has been estimated to be stealing as much as 20,000 tonnes of toothfish per year.
“This is nearly the same quantity of fish being caught legally, under the strictest management and environmental regimes for fisheries in the world”, Mr. Reddell said. “We are hopeful that the Uruguayan Government can rapidly and comprehensively support Australian authorities by ordering the Viarsa to return to the port of Fremantle, Western Australia, under escort of the Australian fisheries patrol vessel, for further investigations”.
Mr. Reddell offered the full support of COLTO to both the Uruguayan and Australian Governments to help track down and prosecute the illegal operators involved in illegal fishing of toothfish.
“COLTO has photos of the Viarsa on its website at www.colto.org and is prepared to assist Governments and CCAMLR in any way possible to bring any toothfish pirates to justice” Mr. Reddell said.
COLTO will continue to monitor the situation, and maintain updates on its website.
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12 August 2003