High Praise for Governments in Toothfish Wars (2003)

28 August 2003


Legal toothfish operators around the world have today applauded the international operation led by the Australian government, which has seen the capture of the Uruguayan flagged Viarsa.  COLTO members acknowledge those in the Australian, South African, United Kingdom and United States Governments who combined to put an end to the extensive ocean chase of the Viarsa.

A spokesman for the group extended COLTO’s congratulations to those officers, crew, fisheries officers and servicemen on Government vessels involved in the chase, and especially those on the Australian civilian patrol vessel, the Southern Supporter.  COLTO members also praised those on the South African and UK vessels who provided the backup and boarding capabilities to bring the chase to a successful conclusion.

Through their recently formed association, The Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators, (with 27 member companies in ten countries), said the capture of the Viarsa will send a strong message to illegal toothfish operators that environmental vandalism and theft of toothfish stocks will not be tolerated by Governments, conservationists, and legal industry alike.

COLTO spokesperson Jenny Hodder said COLTO members would continue to fight to stop any toothfish being taken illegally.

“We will continue to work closely with governments, conservation groups and the general public to stop these criminal activities before legal operators are put out of business, toothfish stocks are decimated, and the unique Antarctic environment is destroyed.  To see international cooperation in the marine environment on this scale is almost unprecedented, and is a powerful message to all toothfish pirates that Governments have declared war on illegal toothfish operators.”  Ms Hodder said today

COLTO was officially launched in Brussels in March this year with a $US100, 000 Wanted Campaign designed to attract information leading to the capture and conviction of toothfish pirates and companies involved in illegal operations.

Ms Hodder said the campaign had so far been very successful and COLTO had received valuable and damming evidence of ongoing pirate operations. It would be working on a number of strategies to send a clear message to illegal operators that they should get out before being caught and prosecuted for illegal activities.


Jenny Hodder
Manager Media and Public Affairs COLTO
Phone1 + 61 8 9202 2457
Phone2 + 61 8 9443 6052
Mobile + 61 (0) 412 005 400
email: media@colto.org

28 August 2003