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Sam Simon, on the hunt for toothfish poachers in the Southern Ocean. Photo: Jeff WirthSam Simon, on the hunt for toothfish poachers in the Southern Ocean. Photo: Jeff WirthThe Sam Simon has reached the Southern Ocean shadowlands and is preparing for the arrival of three more toothfish poaching vessels.

According to the Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators (COLTO), three of the known remaining illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) toothfish poaching vessels are on their way to the waters of Antarctica.

In a statement released on the COLOTO website, dated December 18, 2014, the organisation said “… the three IUU fishing vessels that were recently known to be in port in Thailand, the ‘Chang Bai’, ‘Chengdu’ and ‘Nihewan’ have now changed their names to ‘Taishan’, ‘Jianfeng’ and ‘Yunnan’ respectively, and appear to be heading South towards the CCAMLR area.”

Captain of the Sam Simon, Sid Chakravarty, says, "We are currently en route to recover the illegal nets of the FV Thunder after she has been chased out of her fishing grounds by the Bob Barker. Thereafter we will be the look-out for more toothfish poaching vessels and for their destructive gill-net fishing gear that is their hallmark. Sea Shepherd is well versed in facing criminal operators who threaten this delicate ecosystem. Whether they operate alone or in packs of three, let it be known that we are waiting, ready to make our next arrest in the name of the Southern Ocean."

Capt. Chakravarty charts his course through the shadowlands. Photo: Jeff WirthCapt. Chakravarty charts his course through the shadowlands. Photo: Jeff WirthAt least two of the vessels, the Chang Bai and the Chengdu, have links to the known criminal fishing operation, Vidal Armadores. Since 1999, international fisheries regulators have linked vessels owned by Vidal Armadores or its affiliates to more than 40 cases of alleged illegal fishing.

In 2003, the Viarsa 1, a known affiliate vessel of Vidal Armadores, led Australian authorities on a 21-day high seas chase, after it was found in Australian territorial waters, suspected of illegally fishing for toothfish.

News of the three additional poaching vessels comes just days of the Bob Barker located known poaching vessel, Thunder, inside the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) region of management.

Since finding the poachers six days ago, the Bob Barker has maintained its hot pursuit of the Thunder, including a 21-hour, 100-nautical mile chase through dense pack ice.

Sea Shepherd continues to provide daily updates to Interpol, CCAMLR, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, as to the activities of the Thunder. As yet there has been no official response to these reports.

Poacher Name Change

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