By J. Brock (SARTMA)
Senator Chris Ellison, Australia’s Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Ian Macdonald, Minister of Fisheries and Conservation and Dr. Sherman Stone MP, parliamentary Secretary for Australia’s Minister of the Environment have announced a new twist in the ongoing pursuit of the Uruguayan Flagged Toothfish poacher, VIASRA1. The media release explains that on Saturday, 23 August, crew on VIARSA1 repainted the ship’s name and hull number. According to Fisheries Minister, Ian Macdonald, since the pursuit of VIARSA1 began on August 7th, the ship’s name and hull number had been painted over in an attempt to hide its identity.
The Fisheries Minister continues, "now that the VIARSA1 is displaying its name, vessel number and port of registration, any possible doubts have been eliminated that the vessel is indeed the Uruguayan-flagged VIARSA1. I welcome Uruguay’s public affirmation of its commitment to co-operate with Australia in this incident." Minister Macdonald went on to say, "I look forward to continuing to work with Uruguay to end this saga satisfactorily by bringing the VIARSA1 to Australia for investigation of suspected breaches of Australian law."
According to Justice and Customs Minister, Senator Chris Ellison, "The SOUTHERN SUPPORTER is located over 3,300 nautical miles west of Heard and McDonald Islands and around 1,100 nautical miles from Cape Town. He went on to say that the SOUTHERN SUPPORTER and VIARSA1 are both avoiding occasional icebergs and are under the influence of the Antarctic Convergence Zone weather conditions. "The Australian Government is working closely with a number of nations, particularly South Africa and the United Kingdom to ensure VIARSA1 is brought to an appropriate port for investigation into alleged breaches of Australia’s laws."
SA AGULHAS continues to steam towards the SOUTHERN SUPPORTER and VIARSA1.
(SARTMA would like to thank the Australian Customs Service for the information in this report.)