International Team Chases Illegal Fishing Vessel Across High Seas

It’s kind of like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” only it’s set in the Indian Ocean. Australian and South African customs ships are hunting down the Viarsa, an Uruguayan fishing vessel suspected of poaching millions of pounds of endangered Patagonian toothfish. The high drama on the high seas has covered more than 1,000 miles from Australian waters to south of Cape Town, South Africa, mostly in severe winds and snowstorms. The toothfish, also known as Chilean sea bass, has become wildly popular restaurant fare in recent years and faces imminent extinction if fishing continues at current levels. In some regions, up to 90 percent of Chilean sea bass are taken illegally. Australian authorities say they are serious about cracking down on illegal fishing and won’t give up the chase.