The international industry group representing the world's legal toothfish operators COLTO has written to the Director of Uruguayan Fisheries ( DINARA) to raise its concern about statements he has been reported making about COLTO to a parliamentary inquiry investigating the Viarsa 1 incident.
In the letter to Captain Yamandu Flangini, COLTO said media reports of his testimony to the Uruguayan Deputies International Affairs Committee, gave the impression he may have been given misleading information about the COLTO organization.
To avoid further misunderstanding, COLTO has suggested to Captain Flangini that it would be happy to answer any questions he or the committee may have on COLTO and its aims and membership.
COLTO representative, Martin Exel, said he would also give Captain Flangini and the committee information and background that COLTO has in relation to boats with licenses from Uruguay such as the Viarsa 1.
" COLTO is also more than happy to pass on information on the company Navalmar S.A. that COLTO understands was registered as holding the Uruguayan license for the Viarsa 1."
Mr. Exel said information that COLTO has received from its growing intelligence base around the world, has revealed that Navalmar S.A. is the same company who hold or held Uruguay licenses for the now infamous boats the " Dorita' (also known as Nova Tuna 1 and the " Arvisa" (also known as Kambott, aka Eternal until caught illegally fishing by the French authorities. The letter also responded to some specific claims including allegations that COLTO was an organization of Commonwealth countries interested in preserving toothfish for their own fishing interests.
COLTO currently has 30 member companies and they come from countries including Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, South Africa, Namibia and Falklands-Malvinas.
"Quite clearly COLTO is not a Commonwealth organization, " Mr. Exel said.
"Claims that COLTO is preserving this resource for those countries are patently incorrect. "One of COLTO's major objectives is to stop any toothfish being taken illegally before unscrupulous operators put all members out of business and decimate toothfish stocks."
Mr. Exel said that COLTO shared the concern of DINARA at the apparent ease of Uruguayan licensed vessels to tamper with satellite vessel monitoring systems.
COLTO has previously raised this concern publicly ( media statement 14/8/2003 Was the Uruguayan Government Tricked? COLTO alleges toothfish pirates falsify satellite vessel monitoring systems see at www.colto.org )
?If it is true that the Viarsa owners and operators have been falsifying satellite position reports to the Uruguayan Government this would have major ramifications not just for the Government but for the whole system of monitoring used.
The Viarsa 1 is due in the port of Fremantle in Western Australia tomorrow (Oct 3) to face charges that it was allegedly fishing for Patagonian toothfish in Australian territorial waters around Heard and McDonald Islands (HIMI).