Illegal fishing vessels spotted
AUSTRALIAN fisheries and customs officers are keeping watch on three vessels they believe could be fishing illegally for Patagonian toothfish in the Southern Ocean. The patrol boat Ocean Viking is shadowing the suspected illegal fishing vessels in waters between the Antarctic mainland and the Heard and McDonald islands, which are Australian territory.
Customs Minister Chris Ellison said the Australian patrol vessel had tried to communicate with all three boats.
“(It was met) with little success, although one vessel did respond, saying it was fishing for tuna,” Senator Ellison said.
Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald said the vessel was unlikely to be fishing for tuna as it was not a cold water fish.
The vessels are believed to be fishing for the valuable but increasingly scarce toothfish.
One of the vessels is flagged to Japan but the government believes it is not licensed by Japan to fish in protected waters.
Senator Macdonald said the government had approached Japan seeking permission to board the vessel.
“Until such time as an inspection is undertaken and the legal position of Australia to arrest the vessel is clarified, the Oceanic Viking will continue to shadow the vessels,” he said.
Daily Telegraph – Sydney,New South Wales,Australia