A BAND Of allegedly criminal fisherman has been caught in Galicia north-west Spain for illegally poaching toothfish in Antarctic waters.
The Guardia Civil with help from Interpol busted open this international operation which has seen six people arrested.
It has been determined that more than 3,500 tons of toothfish could have been caught illegally.
Five of the six people arrested are reported to be members of the Vidal family an important local fishing family.
The Patagonian toothfish can sell for €130 a kilo, meaning a large catch can be worth up to €50m. The fish is known as ´white-gold´ due to the health properties of the meat; it being rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. The fish is a rare species of cod and can live up to 50 years. At present the fish is registered as vulnerable due to it only reaching sexual maturity at 15 years old meaning it has a slow reproductive cycle.
Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of the NGO Oceana in Europe, said; “This is the first time that the Spanish Civil Guard, Interpol and Europol have joined forces against illegal fishing in a joint action,”
“This announcement is a watershed in the fight to eradicate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing of our oceans.”
There have already been huge fines of €17m given to three Galician fishing vessels in 2015, previously linked to Vidal.