Chilean Government Support for Species Extinction

Press release - 31 October, 2002

Greenpeace climbers scale the Fisheries Ministry building in Santiago, Chile and hang a banner from the 21st floor reading

Greenpeace activists were literally climbing the walls in protest at the announcement by the host nation of an international conference on endangered species, that it would block measures to protect valuable fish species.

Greenpeace climbers scaled the Fisheries Ministry building in Santiago, Chile and hung a banner from the 21st floor which read "Give It A Chance" - a direct appeal to save the Patagonian Toothfish.

The Chilean Government, which is hosting the latest round of talks for the Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has signalled that it will oppose moves by Australia to give protected status to both Patagonian and Antarctic Toothfish.

"The fact that the host country is effectively endorsing the illegal and unregulated trade which has brought this species to the brink of extinction is almost as ugly as the fish itself. If this were a cute Panda or a dolphin we wouldn't be having this discussion, but instead, governments are allowing the Toothfish to become extinct due to pressure from illegal trade or simple apathy," said Cecilia Serrat of Greenpeace at today's action in Chile.

Other international bodies attempting to regulate the toothfish trade have been ineffective. Speaking from Hobart, Tasmania, the venue for the annual meeting of the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, Desley Mather, commented, "Current attempts by regulatory agencies like CCAMLR need to be strengthened. It's disturbing that Chile is coming out with an anti-conservation position. They should be standing shoulder to shoulder with Australia and leading the way."

Notes: **The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) offers important regulatory protection as it is the foremost international treaty with competency for managing international trade in species under pressure. 160 countries will participate in the CITES meeting opening in Santiago, Chile next Sunday, 3 November 2002.**CCAMLR sources say that if pirate fishing continues at present levels the legal fisheries will close within 7-12 years. Greenpeace believes that unless an independent vessel monitoring system managed by the CCAMLR secretariat in Hobart, is immediately established, many Indian Ocean fisheries like Australia's Heard Island will collapse in about two years.**Patagonian toothfish are also commonly referred to as Chilean Sea Bass or Antarctic Sea Bass**Australia is attempting to get the fish listed under Appendix II of the CITES agreement which will ensure that CITES member states regulate both the size of catch and trade.