The news that Antonio Vidal Pego turned himself into federal authorities in Miami, who arrested him on April 19 for bringing illegally caught “Chilean Sea Bass” into the United States, was a huge surprise. He was indicted several months ago, but I never thought he would appear in an American courtroom. I know all about Vidal. My book – Hooked: Pirates, Poaching and The Perfect Fish – describes how an Australian patrol boat chased one of Vidal’s ships halfway around Antarctica because it was believed to be illegally fishing for Patagonian toothfish (that’s the real name–they aren’t bass).
The name of the fishing vessel was Viarsa–an anagram of Vidal Amadores SA, the name of Vidal’s company. Vidal, who is based in Galicia, Spain, is one of the biggest players in the toothfish business. He’s young and aggressive, he owns several boats, and he’s hired some of the best toothfish hunters out there. By the way, the chase went halfway around Antarctica, through icebergs and near-solid ice, before the vessel was finally arrested. I won’t tell you what happened with the court cases that followed, but let’s hope the prosecutors have better luck with Vidal.