- Robin des Bois - http://www.robindesbois.org/en -

Toothfish below the law

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Santiago de Chile

The commercial extinction of the toothfish, which are bottom-living in great depths is soon scheduled. One has to add to legal quotas of 20.000 t/year given by Chile, Argentina, France, Australia, United Kingdom and South Africa, a further 30.000 to 50.000 t/year harvested by convenience flag vessels. Togo, Belize, Honduras, Sao-Tome, Panama are at the moment very much in fashion in the southern seas. They work in packs and rarely get caught by the military watch dogs vessels of the Australian and French navies Like in the merchant navy, crews are multinational, underpaid, and not aware of legal risks and the owners are wealthy and established in Spain, Ta├»wan, Black Sea, Indonesia, Hong-Kong, Norway…Selling for 10 Euros / kg off the ship raises up universal greed.France has a key role to play in these areas. Its Exclusive Economic Zones totals 17 millions sq/km, seven times the surface area of Mediterranean Sea. One patrol ship and two frigates are not enough to fully enforce law on the fishing activities. Poachers are well informed. They know the schedules of satellite coverage used by the French navy to spot them. If nothing is done, the toothfish will be in a few years endangered by IUU ships. Just like in the seventies, the ice fishes were by the russian fleet.

The Australian proposal to list the toothfish at Annex II appears to be the only tool to effectively control the markets. The 160 CITES members would be obliged to deliver import or export permits. Just like other countries of strong fishing tradition, France does not at the moment seem particularly keen on the project. France and others fear red tape, and it looks a lot like the hidden agenda of pirate ships. Robin des Bois is fully supporting the Australian proposal.