In the Southern Oceans, the Patagonia toothfish (a.k.a. Chilean Sea bass; a.k.a. Antarctic cod) is one of the most overfished species in the oceans.
Poachers have hunted this species ruthlessly and most of the fish taken today are illegally exploited.
In January of this year, Captain Watson and his crew pulled five miles of bottom longline from a depth of two miles just off the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory. They confiscated the gear and reported the Uruguayan vessel that set it to the Australian and South African governments. The gear was turned over to authorities in Cape Town, South Africa.
For every poacher intercepted, a hundred more plunder the remote and hostile waters along the coast of Antarctic and the Southern Oceans.
The movement to protect the Chilean Sea bass is international. Chefs, restaurants, hotels, and retailers around the world have been cooperating to remove this species from menus and markets.
This fish reproduces slowly and must reach the age of 10 to 12 years old to attain sexual maturity. Most are taken on longline hooks before they reach that age.
This is a dying fishery, and it is also an industry that kills a large number of albatross as incidental takes on the lethally-baited hooks.
Whole Foods Market claims their fish is sustainable. According to Whole Foods Market the fish they sell is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and they have approved a catch of three thousand tons per year.
Three thousand tons is an unacceptable take from a species that is on the threshold of collapse. Sea Shepherd opposes this certification by the Marine Stewardship Council and urges consumers to NOT purchase Chilean Sea Bass from Whole Foods Market or anywhere else.
The cost of a meal of Chilean sea bass is measured in more than dollars. By eating this fish, a person is accepting the wholesale incidental slaughter of albatross and contributing to the decline of an endangered species.
"Whole Foods Market should know better," said Allison Lance Watson of Sea Shepherd. "The marketing of this fish by a store with a good green reputation like Whole Foods sends a message that it is okay to continue to diminish the remaining numbers of Patagonia Toothfish. I don't eat fish at all, but I don't intend to buy anything from Whole Foods if they continue to contribute to the demise of this fish from the Southern Oceans."
ALERT: Sea Shepherd urges all supporters to contact their local
Whole Foods Market and request that they stop selling this species.
If they reply that the fishery is sustainable, tell them that is what the Canadian
government said about the Northern cod right up to the day the fishery collapsed.
Click here to e-mail Whole Foods.