Chilean sea bass is so popular with chefs, restaurants, and the dining public that even though it is an endangered and protected species, illegal fishermen are secretly trawling for it. Spanish authorities this week say they caught six fishermen illegally catching the fish in Antarctica.
According to The Local, six people were arrested this week for allegedly running an illegal fishing ring that may have caught an estimated 3,900 tons of toothfish in Antarctica. The toothfish, which is often marketed in restaurants as “Chilean sea bass,” is so valuable that the illegal fishermen reportedly call it “white gold,” and this ring’s haul is estimated to have been worth about $11 million every year.
Toothfish can only legally be fished for under certain quotas, and the investigation into this illegal fishing ring has been going on for over a year. Six ringleaders were arrested this week in Spain and face charges of “crimes against the environment, money laundering, falsifying documents and membership in a criminal group,” according to The Local. Another 16 suspected participants are reportedly still under investigation.