10 Facts About Patagonian Toothfish (Chilean Sea Bass)
If you eat fish, you might think that when you select and pay for Chilean Sea Bass or order it at a restaurant that it really is Chilean Sea Bass, but alas, it is really a Patagonian Toothfish, which doesn’t sound that appetizing. Patagonian Toothfish belong to the cod icefish family (Nototheniidae).
Also we may think of bass as being plentiful, and small.
The Patagonian Toothfish is an amazing unique big giant ugly species of fish with giant teeth, a large body and they are at risk. Illustrations of the fish don’t give credit to their sheer size. Embrace ocean diversity and help these interesting Antarctic individuals.
We’ve heard of Person of Interest, the Patagonian Toothfish is a Fish of Interest. Sadly, to the Fishing industry.
- Patagonian Toothfish can live up to 48 years, can grow as long as two meters and weigh up to 330 pounds or 150 kilograms. That’s such a wonderfully large fish-2 meters is over 6 feet which is taller than most men! Large fish like that, like the endangered black sea bass here off the California coast are such a rare and wonderful sighting and they are endangered too!
- We will probably never see a Patagonian Toothfish underwater because they live deep around the Patagonian and Antarctic shelf. Imagine the very bottom of South America and the ocean area south of that between South America and Antarctica. This makes them easy for illegal fishermen to target. Being part of the icefish family these guys love the coldest water on earth. They live at depths reaching between 300-2500 meters in the southern ocean in waters specifically influenced by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.
- They are the natural food for sperm whales, southern elephant seals and giant squid.
- They spawn during the austral or southern winter producing pelagic eggs and larvae.
- They eat fish, cephalopods like squid, and crustaceans.
- They are in demand due to their size and the quality of their white oily flesh, nicknamed White Gold, which requires little skill to cook.
- Illegal fishing is wiping out Patagonian Toothfish populations and this has become critical in the past 3 years.
- There are several methods of fishing that will literally kill everything in the ocean. Illegal toothfish operators use many prohibited fishing methods, including gillnets. According to the Sea Shepherds, “Gillnets are forbidden due to the high risk of incidental catch of sea birds and marine mammals, as well as the risk that lost or abandoned gillnets will become ‘ghost nets’ that continue to kill fish indefinitely.”
- With their long life and slow growing they take years to mature and grow, so they are not repopulating.
- When you’re shopping or eating, just know that like most imported fish, “fresh” sea bass is nearly always “refreshed” product (frozen fish that has been thawed).
Anytime there are black market activities such as poaching it affects much more than the targeted species, always including crime, risk, danger and money in its wake.
You can read more about the Sea Shepherds efforts to protect the Patagonian Toothfish from Sea Shepherd’s Operation Icefish 2015-16 which is how I learned about the Patagonian Toothfish . Even the legal fishermen support the Sea Shepherds to eliminate the poachers from the Southern Ocean.
Thanks for listening, I’m your host Michele the Trainer. Thanks for visiting!
Michele the Trainer Show Episode 21 http://liquidhike.com/2016/02/12/sea-shepherd-global-operation-ice-fish-episode-21-of-the-michele-the-trainer-show/