AR-News: Southern ocean hunt for ship with cargo of endangered
wolfcrest at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 20 17:37:54 EDT 2003
Southern ocean hunt for ship with cargo of endangered toothfish
John Vidal, environment editor
Tuesday August 19, 2003
South Africa joined a dramatic international hunt for an Uruguayan fishing
vessel yesterday which is believed to have illegally poached millions of
pounds worth of rare Patagonian toothfish in Australian waters.
The Viarsa, which has ignored repeated radio orders, has been hunted for
more than 1,000 miles, mostly through snowstorms and strong gales, by the
Australian customs ship Southern Supporter.
It is one of the most dangerous and tenacious maritime pursuits for years.
The Australian authorities insisted yesterday that they would not give up
the chase, which began 10 days ago after the Viarsa was spotted near Heard
Island, one of the richest known grounds for the endangered fish.
It is skirting icebergs as it flees west across the Southern Ocean in
Last night it was understood that the chase had reached South African
waters, and that the Viarsa was 1,380 miles south of Cape Town. The Southern
Supporter is now working with the South African environment ministry, which
sent the research ship SA Agulhas, a helicopter-equipped icebreaker, to
intercept the Viarsa yesterday.
Last night Ian Macdonald, the Australian fisheries minister, said the Viarsa
was suspected of carrying a full load of toothfish.
"We will do whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes, to see that the
vessel is thoroughly investigated," he said. His spokesman added: "South
Africa has expressed a willingness to help us and we are working with other
countries, too, to stop this boat."
"If you believe in evolution by natural selection, how can you believe that
feelings suddenly appeared, out of the blue, with human beings?"
Steven Siviy, Behavioral Scientist
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