Illegal fishing in Southern Ocean

The New Zealand navy has found three ships illegally fishing in the sea around Antarctica. They are fishing for toothfish. This fish can be sold for a very high price, to expensive restaurants.

Toothfish in the Southern Ocean are protected. Only licensed ships are allowed to fish for toothfish and they each have a quota to make sure numbers of fish do not decrease too much. Crew on licensed ships use long lines to catch the fish. Each ship has fisheries officers on board to check that fishing is legal.

However, 3 unlicensed ships were found poaching toothfish. Also they are using nets which are illegal because they catch other sea animals like seals and whales in the nets. These 3 ships are registered in Equatorial Guinea, a small country in West Africa. However, they probably belong to a criminal Spanish company, Vidal Amadores.

The New Zealand government got permission from Equatorial Guinea for our navy ship, “The Wellington”, to go on board these 3 illegal ships. However, the captains of these 3 ships did not allow this. It was impossible for “The Wellington” to do anything except film the illegal activity.

Murray McCully, our Foreign Minister, said he would provide this film to Interpol. He was also working with nearby ports to make sure they do not allow these ships to unload their fish.

Listen to January 11th 2012 to hear more about fishing in the dangerous Southern Ocean.


• quota – a limited number they are allowed to catch
• poaching – illegal fishing
• Interpol – international police

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