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What Is A Patagonian Toothfish And Why On Earth Is It News?

13/05/2015 16:53 BST | Updated 13/05/2015 17:59 BST
PA

Patagonian Toothfish have made the news - and not for the first time in history.

The humble Patagonian Toothfish is in the headlines today after being mentioned in letters written by Prince Charles which have been made public.

In one of his letter Charles made his concerns for the Patagonian Toothfish very clear. So peculiar was the reference that the news went viral and the term 'patagonian toothfish' trended on social media.

In the letter about illegal fishing, he wrote: "I particularly hope that the illegal fishing of the Patagonian Toothfish will be high on your list of priorities because until that trade is stopped there is little hope for the poor old albatross, for which I shall continue to campaign."

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Putting the Patagonian Toothfish stuff to one side, the Prince of Wales has defended his decision to write a series of letters to government ministers.

Charles's correspondence with ministers - known as the "black spider" memos - were released following a long-running battle by Guardian newspaper journalist Rob Evans to see the documents following a freedom of information request.

A Clarence House spokesman said: "The publication of private letters can only inhibit his ability to express the concerns and suggestions which have been put to him in the course of his travels and meetings."

The statement also insists: "The Prince of Wales is raising issues of public concern, and trying to find practical ways to address the issues."

Back in 2007 the Patagonian Toothfish also spiked on Google search. It made the news, seemingly, after reports like this from The Age newspaper in Melbourne:

Melbourne restaurants are starting to serve Patagonian toothfish as efforts to drive out illegal fishing of the threatened species from Australian Antarctic waters appear to have succeeded.

Just a few years ago the highly valued fish, which can sell for up to $35 a kilogram, was considered a candidate for a protected-species list but a crackdown on pirate fishing operations has reduced the threat and allowed the legal industry to prosper.

The Patagonian toothfish, known for its succulent meat and few bones, has long been a favourite of diners overseas, with Japan - where it is known as mero - and the US being Australia's two biggest export markets for the product.

And just for the record, a Patagonian Toothfish is a type of cod which lives in cold waters.

Prince Charles Letter