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Toothfish Piracy Drama in Southern Ocean

Toothfish Piracy Drama in Southern Ocean

Tales of a high sea drama involving alleged pirate boats acting in an aggressive nature towards a COLTO member's boat has being reported to COLTO, a new international coalition of legal toothfish operators launched just over a month ago to protect sustainable toothfish resources.

News of the drama involving a legal Australian toothfish operator's boat and four alleged pirates boats in the Southern Ocean on the border of Australia's valuable Patagonian toothfish fishery was one of two reports of illegal and unregulated fishing made to COLTO within the past 48 hours.

The boat involved in the incident has been working since early May under a joint venture arrangement between an Australian and New Zealand company. Both companies are involved in toothfish operations.

The other report came from a French member of COLTO, Cap Bourbon S.A. It included photographs of an alleged pirate boat the 'Lugal Pesca' in the French EEZ (Economic Exclusion Zone). It is understood the French authorities have been notified.

The latest reports come on top of a growing amount of intelligence being given to COLTO on alleged pirate activities following its launch in Brussels just over a month ago.

COLTO, a not for profit organization that now has 26 member companies based in 10 countries has been overwhelmed at the response to its Wanted Campaign which offers substantial financial rewards for exposing toothfish pirates and their illegal operations.

A reward of $US100, 000 has been offered and people can make contact through an international free call center in six languages or by answering a questionnaire at a secure site on COLTO's website.

COLTO spokesperson Hamish Wylie, said that because of the danger inherent in being a whistleblower, informants had taken some time to come forward- naturally being very cautious and saying their lives and that of their families were at risk.

"It has offered large rewards because it is dealing with syndicated crime on a global scale."

Mr. Wylie, Chairman of Consolidated Fisheries based in the Falkland Islands, said information related to boat names, the names of skippers and crews, sites where pirate boats are unloading and how pirates evade capture by the authorities.

Mr. Wylie said that a recent campaign in Indonesia to paste up copies of the Wanted Posters had been very successful and was leading to more information. Along with other information, COLTO intelligence operatives are now examining it.

"It is obvious that claims by authorities that the problem of toothfish pirates has been reduced is not supported by the information coming to COLTO.

"COLTO's objective is to stop any toothfish being taken illegally before the continuing criminal activities put us all out of business, destroy unique ecosystems and decimate toothfish stocks."

© Scoop Media

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