After three weeks of hot pursuit the Uruguayan long-liner Viarsa 1 has finally been detained by Australian and South African Fisheries officials.
Falkland Islands Acting Governor Harriet Hall confirmed Wednesday afternoon that an Australian fishery officer made the arrest earlier this morning. Officials finally boarded the vessel after having to delay for a time due to the weather.
The vessel is now being escorted to Cape Town where a more thorough search can take place. The Dorada will accompany the party for a short way before making her way back to the Falklands. Harriet Hall says that the Falklands vessel was there to provide a physical presence but played no physical part. She added that this was an important gesture against illegal fishing.
The Australian government has since revealed that it secretly hired the South African tug boat the John Ross to aid the Southern supporter in its chase of the "Viarsa 1".
Australian authorities have repeatedly said that they were determined to catch the vessel and bring its owners to justice. Australian Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald stressed that Canberra "will make it clear that they will not tolerate illegal fishing".
Australian press reports indicate the Uruguayan government has been co-operating with the Australians by trying to force the "Viarsa 1" to make its way to a suitable port. But the captain and the Spanish crew had cut all communication. However Uruguayan authorities were quoted saying they had ordered the long-liner to return to Montevideo where she would be arrested for allegedly illegal fishing of toothfish in Australian waters.
The web page of COLTO, the Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators has "Viarsa 1" listed as one of many suspect vessels of illegally catching tooth-fish.