Hunting Poachers

7 Nov, 2005 | Living WorldTdp

Trust me, folks, if you think some of my previous posts come from some random direction, you're in for a surprise, because I think I may have surpassed myself.

Let me take you back to what you were doing on 7th August 2003. I honestly haven't got a clue what I was doing, but in the frozen expanse of the Southern Ocean Australia's fisheries patrol ship, Southern Supporter, started chasing a Uruguayan ship suspected of poaching protected Patagonian toothfish. They chased the boat across 7,000 km over 21 days, enlisting help from South African and British governments. They caught them and returned them to Australia for prosecution.

What the hell has that got to do with anything? I can hear you thinking it (why haven't you got your tinfoil hat on?). Well, after two years and an initial trial where the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, the pirates have been found not guilty. Apprently, the second jury found them not guilty, apparently on the grounds that their vessel, the Viarsa, did not have fishing gear in the water when it was finally caught. I'd like to draw your attention to the phrase: in the water. So, they had fishing gear onboard, but, after what is described as a high speed pursuit (these are boats remember), the most expensive in Australian history, and despite them being told to stop repeatedly, plus the tiny fact that they had 97 metric tonnes of protected fish in the hold, easy to forget that, they didn't think they were guilty.

My question is: where the hell did the jury think they got the 97 tonnes of, lest we forget, protected and endangered fish? Did it magically appear out of mid-air, did some fish fairy drop it off? I don't quite understand the debate. Charge them for handling stolen goods for God's sake.

It's not like Australia doesn't have experience with poachers trying to catch the Patagonian toothfish (also known as Chilean sea bass)