PHOTOS: A Toothfish Poaching Ship Is Being Pursued Through Pack Ice In The Antarctic

The Bob Barker in Antarctic seas. Image: Giacomo Giorg.

A poacher fishing vessel, known to regularly change names and countries of registration to try to confuse authorities, is being pursued across wild Antarctic seas by the environment group Sea Shepherd.

The Bob Barker, the Sea Shepherd ship captained by Peter Hammarstedt and best known for its campaign against the Japanese whaling fleet, has been shadowing the Nigerian-flagged Thunder through a field of pack-ice for more than three days.

According to Interpol, the poacher was previously called Wuhan No 4 and Koko. The vessel has an outstanding Interpol Purple Notice and is on the CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) black list of unreported and unregulated vessels.

“At times the ice was almost impassable. I had to use my ship as a snow plough in order to break-through and continue chase,” Captain Hammarstedt said.

Sea Shepherd says Interpol, CCAMLR, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Fishing Management Authority have all been informed of the vessel’s activities.

The Bob Barker in pursuit of Thunder. Image: Simon Age

“We have caught these poachers in blatant violation of international fishing regulations,” Hammarstedt said.

“We have documented their poaching activities, we have reported them, and we are ready to hand them over to the authorities. It is not the responsibility of Sea Shepherd to uphold CCAMLR regulations, but in the absence of legal action from Australia, we remain the only sheriff in town.”

This summer is Sea Shepherd’s 11th Southern Ocean Defence Campaign and the first to target toothfish fishing operators in the waters of Antarctica.

Patagonian toothfish, a species of cod icefish, can grow up to 10 kilograms in weight and are a highly prized eating fish.

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