Ocean pursuit leaves toothfish pirates with nowhere to run

Sydney Morning Herald

An Australian-backed illegal fishing watchdog in Asia is on the heels of some of the last toothfish pirates, as a long-plundered fishery moves to a sustainable catch – and to local meal tables.

A fishing vessel believed to be loaded with millions of dollars worth of Southern Ocean toothfish is being tracked through Malaysia and Indonesia, where it was stopped from landing its catch in a joint operation with Australian fishing managers.

Known as the Thunder, or Wuhan, and operated by a Spanish company, the 1100-tonne ship is one of a handful believed to be still operating in the Antarctic, rapidly switching their names and registrations in efforts to escape detection.

Coastwatch aircraft and the Australian Navy detected Thunder in the Indian Ocean near Christmas Island in April, and a regional strike force denied it port access in Penang, Malaysia, and Bali, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority said.

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