Fishy consignment

Published: Wednesday 30 April 2003

South Africa has seized 235 tonnes of the rare Patagonian toothfish in Cape Town. The illegal haul, estimated to be worth us $2.5 million, was probably headed for China, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

The environment and tourism ministry said that as a member state of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Resources, South Africa was obliged to prevent illegitimate exploitation of the Patagonian toothfish. The convention seeks to monitor and legalise world fishing trade.

The Patagonian toothfish is considered a delicacy because of its taste. The hunting of the fish has thus become lucrative. Experts warn that it could become "commercially extinct" by 2007.

Illegal fishing accounts for about half of the world's supply of the Patagonian toothfish. Though it supposedly thrives in the waters of the southern hemisphere, conservationists point out that the fish population has dwindled alarmingly off the southern coast of Africa.

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