Antarctic/sub-Antarctic Fisheries

​​​Chapter 25: Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery

H Patterson and J Savage

FIGURE 25.1 Area of the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery, 2016
TABLE 25.1 Status of the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery
Status
Biological status
2015
Fishing mortality
2015
Biomass
2016
Fishing mortality
2016
Biomass
Comments
Mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari)Not subject to overfishingNot overfishedNot subject to overfishingNot overfishedTACs are set in accordance with a precautionary harvest strategy.
Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides)Not subject to overfishingNot overfishedNot subject to overfishingNot overfishedTACs are set in accordance with a precautionary harvest strategy. Most recent estimates of biomass are above the limit reference point.

Economic status
Estimates of NER are not available but are likely to be positive. Lower NER are likely for 2015–16 as there was significantly lower catch (a result of a lower TAC) and an increase in the level of uncaught TAC.

Notes: NER Net economic returns. TAC Total allowable catch.

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25.1 Description of the fishery

Area fished

The Australian external territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) is in the southern Indian Ocean (Figure 25.1), within the area covered by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The islands and their surrounding territorial waters (out to 12 nautical miles [nm]) are closed to fishing and regulated under the Environment Protection and Management Ordinance 1987, administered by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) of the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy. A 1 nm buffer zone around the territorial waters of HIMI extends the area closed to fishing to 13 nm. The HIMI Marine Reserve was declared in October 2002 and then expanded in March 2014 by proclamation after scientific assessment. The reserve now totals 71,200 km2. Waters between 12 and 200 nm from HIMI are part of the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ). The Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve management plan 2014–24, made pursuant to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), provides the management regime for the reserve.

Fishing methods and key species

The key target species are Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) and mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari).The fishery also has catch limits for bycatch species, such as deep-sea skates (Rajidae) and grey rockcod (Lepidonotothen squamifrons), based on assessments of long-term annual yield (Constable et al. 1998). The catch limits for unicorn icefish (Channichthys rhinoceratus) and grenadiers (Macrourus spp.), another group of bycatch species, were updated in 2015 based on assessments undertaken by the AAD (Dell et al. 2015; Maschette & Dell 2015). The catch limits are regularly reviewed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) Scientific Committee and the CCAMLR Commission, and are considered precautionary. Demersal trawl and demersal longline are the main methods used in the fishery. Trawl has declined rapidly in favour of longline as the main method used to target toothfish. Mackerel icefish are taken exclusively using demersal and midwater trawl.

Management methods

The AAD, in collaboration with industry, regularly conducts fisheries-independent, random-stratified trawl surveys for target species (Patagonian toothfish and mackerel icefish) to collect relative abundance data, particularly of juvenile age classes. Harvest strategies for the target species are consistent with the precautionary approach implemented by the CCAMLR and have been used to set catch limits since the mid 1990s. The harvest strategies developed for the Heard Island and MacDonald Islands Fishery (HIMIF) are considered more precautionary than the guidelines of the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy (DAFF 2007). For mackerel icefish, the reference point dictates that the spawning stock biomass be maintained at 75 per cent of the level that would occur in the absence of fishing at the end of a two-year model projection. For Patagonian toothfish, the reference points dictate that median escapement of the spawning biomass at the end of a 35-year projection period is 50 per cent of median pre-exploitation level and that the probability of the spawning biomass dropping below 20 per cent of its pre-exploitation median level is less than 10 per cent over the projection.

The importance of the target species (especially mackerel icefish) as prey in the subantarctic ecosystem is taken into account, and catch limits must be sufficiently precautionary to ensure that the abundance of these species meets the ecological needs of dependent species (for example, seabirds and marine mammals). Mackerel icefish in the HIMIF was initially certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in March 2006 and was recertified in July 2016. Patagonian toothfish in the HIMIF was recertified as sustainable by the MSC in July 2017.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) longline fishing within the HIMI AFZ, targeting Patagonian toothfish, was a significant problem from the mid 1990s. However, following Australian surveillance and enforcement activities in the area (in cooperation with adjoining nations in the CCAMLR region, notably France), no IUU fishing vessels have been detected since 2004 inside the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) adjacent to HIMI or the French EEZ surrounding the Kerguelen Islands.

Fishing effort

Effort in the HIMIF has been relatively stable, with two to four vessels active at any one time since a total allowable catch (TAC) was first set in the mid 1990s. However, as a result of the higher TAC, seven vessels were active in 2014–15. Four vessels were active in 2015–16.

Catch

Catches of mackerel icefish have been variable over time. It is a short-lived species, exhibiting periodic, large, dominant year-classes. This allows high catches for a year or two. Once that year-class dies out and the next cohort is growing, catches are reduced because less biomass is available to the fishery.

Catches of Patagonian toothfish have been more stable over time, with little variation between 2000–01 and 2013–14. Catch in the 2014–15 fishing season increased in response to the increased TAC. Catch in 2015–16 was below the TAC by 606 t. This was due to a decrease in catch rates during the fishing season. Possible reasons for this drop in catch rates are currently being investigated by the AAD and the Sub-Antarctic Resource Assessment Group of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and may relate to environmental factors.

TABLE 25.2 Main features and statistics for the HIMIF
Fishery statistics a2014–15 fishing season
2014–15 fishing season2014–15 fishing season2015–16 fishing season2015–16 fishing season2015–16 fishing season
Stock TAC
(t)
Catch
(t)
Real value
(2014–15)
TAC
(t)
Catch
(t)
Real value
(2015–16)
Mackerel icefish30910Confidential482491 bConfidential
Patagonian toothfish4,410 c2,744Confidential3,4052,799Confidential

Fishery-level statistics2014–15 fishing season2015–16 fishing season
Effort57 trawl days
16,139,770 hooks
0 pots hauled
80 trawl days
14,690,716 hooks
0 pots hauled
Fishing permits4 quota SFR holders4 quota SFR holders
Active vessels d74
Observer coverage100% vessel coverage100% vessel coverage
Fishing methodsDemersal longline, demersal trawl, midwater trawl, pot (fish traps)Demersal longline, demersal trawl, midwater trawl, pot (fish traps)
Primary landing portsPort Louis (Mauritius), Nelson (New Zealand), Albany (Western Australia)Port Louis (Mauritius), Nelson (New Zealand), Albany (Western Australia)
Management methodsInput controls: limited entry, gear restrictions, temporal and spatial closures
Output controls: TACs and ITQs
Other: move-on provisions if bycatch thresholds are reached
Input controls: limited entry, gear restrictions, temporal and spatial closures
Output controls: TACs and ITQs
Other: move-on provisions if bycatch thresholds are reached
Primary marketsInternational: United States, Japan, China, eastern Europe—frozenInternational: United States, Japan, China, eastern Europe—frozen
Management plan Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery Management Plan 2002(amended 2011) Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery Management Plan 2002(amended 2011)

a Fishery statistics are provided by fishing season, unless otherwise indicated. Season is 1 December to 30 November. Real-value statistics are by financial year. b 9 t will be deducted from the 2016–17 season quota to take account of the overcatch. c 14 t was deducted from the 2014–15 season quota to take account of the overcatch of the previous year. d All vessels carry two observers on each trip.
Notes: ITQ Individual transferable quota. SFR Statutory fishing right. TAC Total allowable catch.

25.2 Biological status

Mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari)

Mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari) 

Line drawing: FAO

Stock structure

A single stock of mackerel icefish is considered to exist at HIMI; no genetic variation among sites around HIMI has been found (Williams et al. 1994). Genetic studies have indicated that the population at HIMI is distinct from other icefish populations in the southern Atlantic Ocean (Kuhn & Gaffney 2006). Mackerel icefish at HIMI and the Kerguelen Plateau in the French EEZ are considered distinct stocks because of their different spawning seasons and growth rates (Williams et al. 2001).

Catch history

The catch history of icefish has been sporadic, with very high and unregulated catches taken by Soviet and Polish fleets across the Kerguelen Plateau in the 1970s, before the declaration of the EEZ around the Kerguelen Islands by France and the AFZ around HIMI. Considerable uncertainty exists about where these earlier catches were taken relative to the current maritime boundaries, although charts from this period indicate that the fishing fleet was aware of some of the banks where icefish currently form aggregations within the Australian EEZ. The initial TAC for icefish was set by the CCAMLR in 1995 following a demersal survey conducted by the AAD. Since then, catches have generally followed the TAC, which takes into account the large natural fluctuations in abundance of the fish (Figure 25.2), except for 2014–15, when catches were well under the TAC. This was a result of fishers concentrating their efforts in 2014–15 on the more valuable Patagonian toothfish, for which the TAC was higher than in recent years.

FIGURE 25.2 Catch and TAC of mackerel icefish in the HIMIF, 1971–72 to 2015–16
Note: TAC Total allowable catch.
Source: Australian Fisheries Management Authority
Stock assessment

A random stratified trawl survey in April 2016 provided information on the abundance and age structure of the mackerel icefish stock (Nowara et al. 2016). As noted in previous years, multiple year-classes were present, with the 2+ year-class estimated to account for 42 per cent of the biomass (Maschette & Welsford 2016). The stock assessment estimated the current biomass at 5,490 t (Maschette & Welsford 2016). Yields of 561 t for the 2016–17 season and 402 t for the 2017–18 season were estimated to satisfy the CCAMLR decision rules, assuming that the entire 2015–16 TAC was taken. Because the dominant 2+ year-class cohort is made up of relatively small fish and may not be well sampled by the survey gear, the estimated yields may change following the 2017 survey. A TAC of 561 t for the 2016–17 season was endorsed by the CCAMLR (CCAMLR 2016a, b).

Stock status determination

Based on the level of catch, the harvest rate relative to the stock biomass estimate (which, under the harvest strategy, allows for a high rate of escapement) and the robust nature of the assessment, which includes fisheries-independent data, the stock is determined to be not overfished and not subject to overfishing.

Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides)

Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) 

Line drawing: FAO

Stock structure

The Patagonian toothfish stock at HIMI is considered to comprise a population distinct from other regional toothfish populations in the south-west Pacific and Atlantic oceans (Appleyard et al. 2002). However, limited genetic variation has been found among populations in the western Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean (that is, HIMI, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, Marion Island and Prince Edward Islands; Appleyard et al. 2004; Toomey et al. 2016). Data from tagging studies (for example, Williams et al. 2002; Welsford et al. 2011) indicate that, while adult toothfish at HIMI are relatively sedentary and usually recaptured within 15 nm of their point of release, in some cases they travel significant distances. For example, toothfish tagged at HIMI have been recaptured approximately 800 nm and 1,000 nm away on the Kerguelen and Crozet plateaus, respectively. Thus, toothfish in the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean may form a metapopulation, with some limited connectivity between the populations. The stock structure of toothfish on the Kerguelen Plateau is being further investigated in collaboration with French scientists so that population models of toothfish in the area can be refined and management can be improved across the Kerguelen Plateau (Péron et al. 2016; Welsford et al. 2011). For the purposes of the assessment, the HIMI toothfish population is considered to be distinct.

Catch history

Catch of Patagonian toothfish in the HIMIF has declined slightly since the late 1990s, but was relatively stable from the early 2000s to 2013–14 and has mirrored the TAC (Figure 25.3). Because of the higher TAC, catches were greater in 2014–15 and the highest since 1994–95. As noted above, catch rates dropped in the 2015–16 fishing season.

FIGURE 25.3 Catch and TAC of Patagonian toothfish in the HIMIF, 1994–95 to 2015–16
Note: TAC Total allowable catch.
Source: Australian Fisheries Management Authority
Stock assessment

The most recent assessment for Patagonian toothfish (Ziegler & Welsford 2015) used the most recent version of the integrated assessment model CASAL, and included abundance estimates obtained from the survey, standardised catch-per-unit-effort and catch-at-age proportions, and other fishery and biological data inputs. Recommendations from the 2014 CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment (WG-FSA), and the 2015 Working Group on Statistics, Assessment and Modelling were also considered. These recommendations included using updated ageing data up to 2014; using full tagging data from 2014 and partial tagging data from 2015; updating the growth model; and changing the assumptions (priors) for catchability, unfished biomass (B0) and year-class strength (Ziegler & Welsford 2015).

The assessment agreed by the 2015 WG-FSA estimated that the spawning biomass was 64 per cent of unfished levels (SB2015/SB0 = 0.64; range 0.59–0.69). A catch limit of 3,405 t satisfied the CCAMLR decision rules and was the recommended TAC for 2015–16 and 2016–17 (CCAMLR 2016a, b). This TAC is lower than that set for 2014–15 because of the inclusion of tagging data in the model, which resulted in a lower estimate of unfished biomass.

Stock status determination

Given the relatively high spawning biomass, the precautionary TAC that satisfies the CCAMLR decision rules, the robust nature of the stock assessment and the extensive CCAMLR review process, the stock is classified as not overfished and not subject to overfishing.

25.3 Economic status

Key economic trends

The TAC for Patagonian toothfish has been fully caught in recent years, indicating that positive net economic returns (NER) are likely to have been generated for this species. Patagonian toothfish has constituted, on average, more than 90 per cent of the fishery's annual gross value of production over the past decade. Patagonian toothfish is a very high-value species compared with mackerel icefish, with strong demand and high prices for exports to Europe. As such, Patagonian toothfish is the main targeted species in this fishery and consequently drives NER movements.

Since 2012–13, a commercial TAC has been re-established for mackerel icefish, reflecting increased estimated abundance. Only a small percentage of the TAC was left uncaught in both the 2012–13 and 2013–14 fishing seasons, and the full TAC was caught in the 2015–16 season. The mackerel icefish TAC was not caught in 2014–15 because natural fluctuations in the stock size resulted in a sharp reduction of the TAC, and the stock was therefore not strongly fished.

The Patagonian toothfish TAC was almost entirely caught in 2014–15, strongly indicating positive NER. In 2015–16, the uncaught TAC for Patagonian toothfish increased significantly, likely due to environmental conditions, indicating that NER for the fishery have fallen from the previous years.

Bringing up a Patagonian toothfish
Austral Fisheries

Management arrangements

A harvest strategy, consistent with the principles of the CCAMLR, is in place for the fishery. The primary management control uses individual transferable quotas (ITQs), in conjunction with input controls. The use of ITQs provides the best chance of achieving maximum efficiency, subject to the fishery's precautionary harvest strategy and strict operational constraints on vessels. Given the low levels of quota latency, positive NER are likely to be generated in the fishery in a manner that is consistent with the conservative ecological objectives.

25.4 Environmental status

The HIMIF is exempt from export controls under the EPBC Act until 9 October 2026. No additional recommendations apply under this exemption, beyond standard recommendations pertaining to reporting.

Three ecological risk assessments were completed in the HIMIF by gear type: demersal trawl, midwater trawl and demersal longline. No risk assessment has been done for fish pots. The Sustainability Assessment for Fishing Effects (level 3) assessment for all gear types found that the estimated fishing mortality was generally low for all non-target fish species, and that no species was at high risk (Zhou et al. 2009). Ecological risk management for all gear types focuses on how AFMA will continue to monitor interactions with bycatch and protected species in a manner consistent with CCAMLR principles (AFMA 2009a, b, c).

AFMA publishes quarterly reports of logbook interactions with species protected under the EPBC Act on its website. In the HIMI longline fishery in 2016 (calendar year), eight southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina)became entangled in the longlines and died, as did two crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) and one unidentified seal. Five white-chinned petrels (Procellaria aequinoctialis) became entangled in the longline and died, and one died in the trawl. Finally, one macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus) and one grey-headed albatross (Thalassarche chrysostoma) died after being entangled in the longline.

25.5 References

AFMA 2009a, Ecological risk management: report for the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery—demersal longline sub-fishery, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.

—— 2009b, Ecological risk management:report for the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery—demersal trawl sub-fishery, AFMA, Canberra.

—— 2009c, Ecological risk management: report for the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery—midwater trawl sub-fishery, AFMA, Canberra.

Appleyard, SA, Ward, RD & Williams, R 2002, ‘Population structure of Patagonian toothfish around Heard, McDonald and Macquarie Islands', Antarctic Science, vol. 14, pp. 364–73.

——, Williams, R & Ward, RD 2004, ‘Population genetic structure of Patagonian toothfish in the West Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean', CCAMLR Science, vol. 11, pp. 21–32.

CCAMLR 2016a, Report of the Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, WG-FSA-16, Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Hobart.

—— 2016b, Report of the thirty-fifth meeting of the Scientific Committee,SC-CAMLR-XXXV, CCAMLR, Hobart.

Constable, AJ, Williams, R & de la Mare, WK 1998, ‘Assessment of by-catch in trawl fisheries at Heard and McDonald Islands', CCAMLR Science, vol. 5, pp. 231–43.

DAFF 2007, Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy: policy and guidelines,Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.

Dell, J, Maschette, D, Woodcock, E & Welsford, D 2015, Biology, population dynamics and preliminary assessment of the long-term yield of Macrourus caml by-caught by the Australian fishery at Heard Island and the McDonald Islands (CCAMLR Division 58.8.2),WG-FSA-15/63, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart.

Kuhn, KL & Gaffney, PM 2006, ‘Preliminary assessment of population structure in the mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari)', Polar Biology, vol. 29, pp. 927–35.

Maschette, D & Dell, J 2015, An updated assessment of unicorn icefish (Channichthys rhinoceratus) in Division 58.5.2, based on results from the 2015 random stratified trawl survey, WG-FSA-15/50, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart.

–––– & Welsford, DC 2016, A preliminary assessment of mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari) in Division 58.5.2, based on results from the 2016 random stratified trawl survey,WG- FSA-16/26, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart.

Nowara, GB, Lamb, TD & Welsford, DC 2016, The random stratified trawl survey to estimate the abundance of Dissostichus eleginoides and Champsocephalus gunnari in the waters of Heard Island (Division 58.5.2) for 2016, WG-FSA-16/23, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart.

Péron, C, Welsford, DC, Ziegler, P, Lamb, TD, Gasco, N, Chazeau, C & Duhamel, G 2016, ‘Modelling spatial distribution of Patagonian toothfish through life-stages and sex and its implications for the fishery on the Kerguelen Plateau', Progress in Oceanography, vol. 141, pp. 81–95.

Toomey, L, Welsford, D, Appleyard, SA, Polanowski, A, Faux, C, Deagle, BE, Belchier, M, Marthick, J & Jarman, S 2016, ‘Genetic structure of Patagonian toothfish populations from otolith DNA', Antarctic Science, vol. 28, pp. 347–60.

Welsford, DC, Candy, SG, Lamb, TD, Nowara, GB, Constable, AJ & Williams, R 2011, ‘Habitat use by Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides Smitt 1898) on the Kerguelen Plateau around Heard Island and the McDonald Island', in G Duhamel & DC Welsford (eds), First symposium on the Kerguelen Plateau: marine ecosystems and fisheries, Societe Francaise d'Ichtyologie, Paris, pp. 125–36.

Williams, R, Smolenski, AJ & White, RWG 1994, ‘Mitochondrial DNA variation of Champsocephalus gunnari Lonnberg (Pisces: Channichthyidae) stocks on the Kerguelen Plateau, southern Indian Ocean', Antarctic Science, vol. 6, pp. 347–52.

——, van Wijk, E, Constable, A & Lamb, T 2001, The fishery for Champsocephalus gunnari and its biology at Heard Island (Division 58.5.2), WAMI-01/04, report to the CCAMLR Workshop on Assessment Methods for Icefish, Hobart.

——, Tuck, GN, Constable, AJ & Lamb, T 2002, ‘Movement, growth and available abundance to the fishery of Dissostichus eleginoides Smitt, 1898 at Heard Island, derived from tagging experiments', CCAMLR Science, vol. 9, pp. 33–48.

Zhou, S, Smith, T & Fuller, M 2009, Rapid quantitative risk assessment for fish species in major Commonwealth fisheries, report to AFMA, Canberra.

Ziegler, P & Welsford, D 2015, Anintegrated stock assessment for the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) Fishery in Division 58.5.2, WG-FSA-15/52, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart.

Fishing in rough conditions
Austral Fisheries

Chapter 26: Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery

H Patterson and J Savage

FIGURE 26.1 Area of the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery, 2016
TABLE 26.1 Status of the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery
Status
Biological status
2015
Fishing mortality
2015
Biomass
2016
Fishing mortality
2016
Biomass
Comments
Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides)Not subject to overfishingNot overfishedNot subject to overfishingNot overfishedTACs are set in accordance with a precautionary harvest strategy. Most recent estimate of biomass is above the limit reference point.

Economic status
Estimates of NER are not available but are likely positive between 2013–14 and 2016–17 because the TAC for Patagonian toothfish was mostly caught. NER most likely fell in 2015–16 because difficult operating conditions led to lower catch, despite an increase in the TAC and effort in that year. NER likely increased in 2016–17 because catch per longline day was slightly higher than the previous season.

Notes: NER Net economic returns. TAC Total allowable catch.

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26.1 Description of the fishery

Area fished

Macquarie Island is a subantarctic island about 1,500 km south of Tasmania (Figure 26.1). The island is a nature reserve in the Tasmanian reserve system and is included on the World Heritage List (UNESCO 1998). The waters within 3 nautical miles (nm) of the island are under Tasmanian jurisdiction, while waters between 3 nm and the 200 nm outer boundary of the Australian Fishing Zone are managed by the Australian Government. The south-eastern quadrant of the Macquarie Island region out to 200 nm is a marine reserve (Figure 26.1). The Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (MITF) is outside the area covered by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources; however, the ecosystem-based management approach used by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has been adopted for the fishery, including comprehensive observer coverage and precautionary harvest control rules.

Fishing methods and key species

Historically, trawling was the main fishing method used in the MITF. In 2011, longlining was added as an approved fishing method (AFMA 2010). This followed a longlining trial over four seasons (2007 to 2010) that demonstrated longlining as an effective method for targeting Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides)and showed that mitigation methods could be implemented to minimise seabird interactions with longline gear (AFMA 2010). Since the 2010–11 season, toothfish in the MITF have been solely taken using longline, with the exception of a trial of pots in the 2013–14 fishing season. Bycatch is generally low and is regulated by a 50 t limit for any one species. The bycatch, primarily grenadier (Macrourus spp.)and violet cod (Antimora rostrata), has never exceeded the 50 t limit for any one species in a season.

Management methods

The harvest strategy for Patagonian toothfish is consistent with the precautionary approach of the CCAMLR and is considered more precautionary than the guidelines of the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy (HSP; DAFF 2007). For Patagonian toothfish, the reference points dictate that median escapement of the spawning biomass at the end of a 35-year projection period is 50 per cent of median pre-exploitation level and that the probability of the spawning biomass dropping below 20 per cent of its pre-exploitation median level is less than 10 per cent over the projection. The total allowable catch (TAC) was previously set separately for the two main areas (Aurora Trough and Macquarie Ridge). However, based on scientific advice that it is highly likely that there is a single stock of Patagonian toothfish around Macquarie Island (see ‘Stock structure', below), the management plan was amended in January 2012 to merge the two areas, and a single TAC is now set for the entire fishery. The MITF was recertified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council in July 2017.

Fishing effort

The effort in the fishery has been consistent over time, with one or two vessels active in the fishery every year since the fishery began in 1994.

TABLE 26.2 Main features and statistics for the MITF
Fishery statistics a2015–16 fishing season
2015–16 fishing season2015–16 fishing season2016–17 fishing season2016–17 fishing season2016–17 fishing season
Stock TAC
(t)
Catch
(t)
Real value
(2014–15)
TAC
(t)
Catch
(t)
Real value
(2015–16)
Patagonian toothfish460324Confidential450434Confidential

Fishery-level statistics2015–16 fishing season2016–17 fishing season
Effort (longline days)92116
Fishing permits2 quota SFR holders2 quota SFR holders
Active vessels11
Observer coverage b100% vessel coverage100% vessel coverage
Fishing methodsDemersal longline, demersal trawlDemersal longline, demersal trawl
Primary landing portsNelson (New Zealand); Devonport and Hobart (Tasmania)Nelson (New Zealand); Devonport and Hobart (Tasmania)
Management methodsInput controls: limited entry, gear restrictions, closures
Output controls: TACs, ITQs
Input controls: limited entry, gear restrictions, closures
Output controls: TACs, ITQs
Primary marketsInternational: United States, Japan—frozenInternational: United States, Japan—frozen
Management plan Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery Management Plan 2006 (amended 2012) Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery Management Plan 2006 (amended 2012)

a Fishery statistics are provided by fishing season, unless otherwise indicated. The 2016–17 fishing season was 15 April 2016 to 14 April 2017. Real-value statistics are provided by financial year. b All vessels carry two observers on each trip.
Notes: ITQ Individual transferable quota. SFR Statutory fishing right. TAC Total allowable catch.

26.2 Biological status

Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides)

Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) 

Line drawing: FAO

Stock structure

The Patagonian toothfish stock at Macquarie Island is considered to be distinct from other regional toothfish populations in the Southern Ocean (Appleyard et al. 2002). Genetic studies (for example, Appleyard et al. 2002) and toothfish tagging programs (for example, Williams et al. 2002) indicate that a single stock exists in the MITF area.

Catch history

The catch of Patagonian toothfish in the MITF (Figure 26.2) has been variable over time and generally below, but close to, the TAC. Initial catches in the fishery were relatively high but decreased from 1999 to 2003, when the Aurora Trough was effectively closed to commercial fishing, and only a single vessel was permitted to fish to maintain the tagging program and conduct experimental acoustic surveys. Catch in the 2015–16 season was below the TAC as a result of a number of factors, including lost gear, and extreme weather and currents. In addition, fishers balanced their vessel time between the MITF and the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery, where the TAC was substantially increased in 2015. Catch in the 2016–17 season was very near the TAC.

FIGURE 26.2 Catch and TAC of Patagonian toothfish in the MITF, 1994–95 to 2016–17
Note: TAC Total allowable catch.
Source: Australian Fisheries Management Authority
Stock assessment

In 2016, Stock Synthesis 3 software was used to assess the Patagonian toothfish stock (Day et al. 2016). This integrated two-area assessment fits to tag–recapture, length composition and age-at-length data. The assessment assumes a single stock in the MITF but with spatial structuring of fishing and movement between two areas (northern and southern), with recruitment to both areas. Using this assessment, 2016 female spawning biomass was estimated at 67 per cent of unfished levels (SB0). Following the CCAMLR control rule (which uses a target of 50% SB0 rather than 48% SB0), a two-year TAC was calculated for the MITF for 2016–17 and 2017–18, which was robust to a wide array of catch distributions spread among the different fishing areas.

Stock status determination

The relatively high estimate of current female spawning biomass (0.67SB0) and the robust nature of the assessment result in the stock being classified as not overfished. The conservative TAC-setting process, based on the application of precautionary CCAMLR control rules, and the maintenance of catch generally below the TAC result in the stock being classified as not subject to overfishing.

26.3 Economic status

Key economic trends

Latency can be variable in this fishery. In the 2014–15 fishing season, the TAC was fully caught with less effort than in the 2013–14 season. The TAC was not fully caught in 2015–16 (latency was 30 per cent), despite an increase in effort, indicating negative effects on catch from difficult operating conditions. Catch in 2016–17 returned to near TAC again as a result of improving conditions, indicating a rise in net economic returns from 2015–16. Catch per longline day remained within usual bounds at approximately 3.7 t in 2016–17 (3.5 t in 2015–16), although this compares with a catch per longline day of 6.0 t in 2014–15.

The estimated biomass of 0.67SB0 in 2016 is well above the targeted level of 0.50SB0. This high abundance is likely to result in lower fishing costs and improved profitability. Given that only one operator has fished in the MITF in recent years, it is also likely that individual profit-maximising decisions are aligned with optimum use of the resource, within the constraints of the fishery's precautionary objective.

Management arrangements

The harvest strategy for this fishery is conservative, reflecting the CCAMLR ecosystem-based management approach. Therefore, catch limits aim to maintain stock biomass at levels that are higher than recommended target reference points for other Commonwealth fisheries managed under the HSP.

Average vessel economic performance is likely to have improved since longlining was approved in 2011. The initial demersal longline trial in 2007 found a number of benefits of longline fishing compared with trawl fishing, including increased access to Patagonian toothfish in deeper waters and reduced levels of bycatch (AFMA 2010). These benefits are likely to have improved vessel-level productivity, moderating the negative effects of rough sea conditions experienced in recent years.

26.4 Environmental status

The MITF is included on the List of Exempt Native Specimens under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and has export approval until 9 October 2026. No additional recommendations apply under this exemption, beyond standard recommendations pertaining to reporting.

The ecological risk assessment process was completed to level 3 (Sustainability Assessment for Fishing Effects) for trawling and demersal longline for sharks and scalefish. No species was at high risk from trawling in the MITF (Zhou et al. 2009). The level 3 assessment for demersal longlining used data from 2007 to 2010 and is considered preliminary (Zhou & Fuller 2011). Two species—southern lanternshark (Etmopterus baxteri)and southern sleeper shark (Somniosus antarcticus)—had mean fishing mortality estimated to be slightly higher than the rates corresponding to the maximum number of fish that can be removed in the long term. However, the authors suggest that the level 3 assessment tends to be overly precautionary, and it is likely that the mortality rate was overestimated. This is supported by the low recorded catch for the two species (two southern lantern sharks and nine southern sleeper sharks) over the three years. Further analyses should take place as data become available. The MITF ecological risk management reports for trawling and demersal longline both outline how the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) will continue to monitor bycatch, and interactions with protected species under the EPBC Act, in a manner consistent with CCAMLR principles (AFMA 2009, 2011).

All the catch in the MITF is now taken by longline. No seabird or marine mammal interactions were observed in the longline trial. AFMA publishes quarterly reports of logbook interactions with species protected under the EPBC Act on its website. In 2016, seven porbeagles (Lamna nasus) were hooked. Two were released alive and five were dead.

Patagonian toothfish
Australian Longline

26.5 References

AFMA 2009, Ecological risk management: report for the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery—demersal trawl sub-fishery, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.

—— 2010, Assessment of longline fishing in the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery, AFMA, Canberra, available at http://environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/4f27ef7d-bb8b-41ef-b8bf-ae4449de1d4d/files/afma-assessment.pdf.

——2011, Ecological risk management: report for the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery—demersal longline sub-fishery, AFMA, Canberra.

Appleyard, SA, Ward, RD & Williams, R 2002, ‘Population structure of Patagonian toothfish around Heard, McDonald and Macquarie Islands', Antarctic Science, vol. 14, pp. 364–73.

DAFF 2007, Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy: policy and guidelines, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.

Day, J, Wayte, S, Haddon, M & Hillary, R 2016, Stock assessment of the Macquarie Island fishery for Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides), using data up to and including August 2015, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart.

UNESCO 1998, Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, twenty-first session of the World Heritage Committee, 1–6 December 1997, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Naples, Italy, available at http://whc.unesco.org/archive/1997/whc-97-conf208-17e.pdf.

Williams, R, Tuck, GN, Constable, AJ & Lamb, T 2002, ‘Movement, growth and available abundance to the fishery of Dissostichus eleginoides Smitt, 1898 at Heard Island, derived from tagging experiments', CCAMLR Science, vol. 9, pp. 33–48.

Zhou, S & Fuller, M 2011, Sustainability assessment for fishing effects on fish bycatch species in the Macquarie Island Toothfish Longline Fishery: 2007–2010, report to AFMA, Canberra.

——, Fuller, M & Smith, T 2009, Rapid quantitative risk assessment for fish species in seven Commonwealth fisheries, report to AFMA, Canberra.

Chapter 27: CCAMLR Exploratory Toothfish Fisheries

H Patterson and J Savage

FIGURE 27.1 CCAMLR Convention area
TABLE 27.1 Status of the CCAMLR Exploratory Toothfish Fisheries
Status
Biological status
2015
Fishing mortality a
2015
Biomass a
2016
Fishing mortality
2016
Biomass
Comments
Division 58.4.1, toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni, D. eleginoides)--Not subject to overfishingUncertainNo estimate of current biomass available.
Subarea 88.2, toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni, D. eleginoides)Not subject to overfishingNot overfishedNot subject to overfishingNot overfishedMost recent estimate of biomass is above the limit reference point under the CCAMLR harvest strategy. The TAC is conservative relative to current biomass.

Economic status
Estimates of NER are not available and NER remain uncertain. Australian fishers participated in subarea 88.2 in the 2014–15 fishing season and in division 58.4.1 during the 2015–16 season.

a This stock was not assessed in 2015.
Notes: CCAMLR Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. NER Net economic returns. TAC Total allowable catch.

[expand all]

27.1 Description of the fishery

Area fished

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established in 1982 to conserve and manage the Southern Ocean Antarctic ecosystem, mainly in high-seas areas. The objective of the CCAMLR is the conservation and rational use of Antarctic marine living resources. The CCAMLR Convention area is defined as the area south of the Antarctic Convergence, as well as the area south of 60°S where the Antarctic Treaty (1959) applies (Figure 27.1).

The CCAMLR defines ‘new and exploratory' fisheries for particular areas, and places emphasis on acquiring biological and other information during the development of the fisheries. Participation in such fisheries requires member states to implement management measures, and a research plan detailing the scientific data that a country plans to collect and contribute to the CCAMLR.

Exploratory fisheries are defined under Conservation Measure 21-02:

  1. an exploratory fishery shall be defined as a fishery that was previously classified as a ‘new fishery’, as defined by Conservation Measure 21-01
  2. an exploratory fishery shall continue to be classified as such until sufficient information is available
  1. to evaluate the distribution, abundance and demography of the target species, leading to an estimate of the fishery’s potential yield
  2. to review the fishery’s potential impacts on dependent and related species
  3. to allow the Scientific Committee to formulate and provide advice to the Commission on appropriate harvest catch levels, as well as effort levels and fishing gear, where appropriate.

The Ross Sea and Amundsen Sea area is encompassed by CCAMLR subareas 88.1 and 88.2 (Figure 27.1). These two subareas are CCAMLR Exploratory Toothfish Fisheries and are managed separately, with distinct stock assessments. An Australian vessel nominated to fish in subareas 88.1 and 88.2 in the 2014–15 fishing season (Figure 27.1), but only subarea 88.2 was fished, so subarea 88.1 is not reported on here. There was no fishing in subareas 88.1 or 88.2 in 2015–16. In addition, division 58.4.1, which is adjacent to subarea 88.1, was fished by an Australian vessel in 2015–16.

Fishing methods and key species

Demersal longline is the primary method used to target Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) and Patagonian toothfish (D. eleginoides) in CCAMLR toothfish fisheries.New and exploratory fisheries have catch limits for bycatch species, such as skates and rays,whiptails (Macrourus spp.) and other species, as well as move-on provisions. The catch limits may be based on a percentage of the catch of toothfish (for example, 5 per cent of the catch limit for Dissostichus spp.), or may be set as a specific limit (for example, 50 t) for each CCAMLR subarea or division that constitutes a new and exploratory fishery.

Management methods

Harvest strategies for the target species are consistent with the precautionary approach implemented by the CCAMLR that has been used to set catch limits since the mid 1990s. The harvest strategy for toothfish developed by the CCAMLR is more precautionary than the guidelines of the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy (DAFF 2007). For toothfish, the reference points in the CCAMLR harvest strategy dictate that median escapement of the spawning biomass at the end of a 35-year projection period is 50 per cent of its median pre-exploitation level, and that the probability of the spawning biomass dropping below 20 per cent of its median pre-exploitation level is less than 10 per cent over the projection period. In exploratory fisheries, total allowable catches (TACs) are then fished by approved vessels that have nominated to fish specific subareas or divisions. Shares of the TAC are not allocated to particular CCAMLR members; however, members may receive allocations to conduct specific research programs. Fishing is closed when the catch limit for the subarea is reached, based on daily catch-and-effort reporting required by all vessels. Vessels fishing in exploratory fisheries are required to carry scientific observers, and to tag and release toothfish at pre-specified levels as part of the scientific data collection process.

Fishing effort

Australia began fishing in subarea 88.2 in 2014–15. There was no previous effort by Australian vessels in this subarea, although other CCAMLR members have fished there since 2002. In 2015–16, however, there was no effort in this subarea by Australian vessels. Division 58.4.1 was fished for the first time by an Australian vessel in 2015–16 (excluding some experimental trawling in the division in 1999–2000).

TABLE 27.2 Main features and statistics for the CCAMLR Exploratory Toothfish Fisheries
Fishery statistics a2014–15 fishing season
2014–15 fishing season2014–15 fishing season2015–16 fishing season2015–16 fishing season2015–16 fishing season
Stock TAC
(t)
Catch
(t)
Real value
(2014–15)
TAC
(t)
Catch
(t)
Real value
(2015–16)
Subarea 88.2, toothfish619 b213 cConfidential619 b0Confidential
Division 58.4.1, toothfish660 b51 cConfidential

Fishery-level statistics2014–15 fishing season2015–16 fishing season
EffortDivision 58.4.1: 0 hooks
Subarea 88.2: 697,850 hooks
Division 58.4.1: 348,605 hooks
Subarea 88.2: 0 hooks
Fishing permitsDivision 58.4.1: 0
Subarea 88.2: 1
Division 58.4.1: 1
Subarea 88.2: 1
Active vesselsDivision 58.4.1: 0
Subarea 88.2: 1
Division 58.4.1: 1
Subarea 88.2: 0
Observer coverage d100% vessel coverage100% vessel coverage
Fishing methodsDemersal longlineDemersal longline
Primary landing portsNelson (New Zealand); Hobart (Tasmania)Nelson (New Zealand); Hobart (Tasmania)
Management methodsInput controls: limited entry, gear restrictions, temporal and spatial closures
Output controls: TACs
Other: move-on provisions if bycatch thresholds are reached
Input controls: limited entry, gear restrictions, temporal and spatial closures
Output controls: TACs
Other: move-on provisions if bycatch thresholds are reached
Primary marketsInternational: United States, Japan, China—frozenInternational: United States, Japan, China—frozen
Management planNo formal management plan; operations consistent with CCAMLR conservation measuresNo formal management plan; operations consistent with CCAMLR conservation measures

a Fishery statistics are provided by fishing season, unless otherwise indicated. Season is 1 December to 31 August. Real-value statistics are by financial year. b Total available TAC for all participating fleets. c Australian catch only. Total catches are provided in Figures 27.2 and 27.3. d All Australian vessels carry two observers on each trip.
Notes: CCAMLR Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. TAC Total allowable catch. No Australian vessels participated in the fishery in division 58.4.1 in 2014–15.

Iceberg
Australian Longline

27.2 Biological status

Toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni, D. eleginoides) in subarea 88.2

Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) 

Line drawing: FAO

Stock structure

Genetic examination of Antarctic toothfish from widely separated CCAMLR statistical areas (Atlantic Ocean sector, Pacific Ocean sector, Indian Ocean sector) has produced mixed results. Early studies found some weak variation by ocean sector (Smith & Gaffney 2005; Kuhn & Gaffney 2008), whereas a more recent study was unable to detect any genetic variation among fish from the different sectors (Mugue et al. 2014). However, tagging studies from numerous locations in the CCAMLR Convention area have indicated that the majority of adult toothfish are sedentary and are recaptured relatively close to where they were tagged (<50 km) (Petrov & Tatarnikov 2010; Welsford et al. 2011). This should result in genetic differentiation. Newer genomic techniques may be needed to better understand stock structure. Preliminary otolith chemistry work has also provided evidence of regional stock structuring (Tana et al. 2014).

CCAMLR subarea 88.2 is divided into smaller areas known as small-scale research units (SSRUs) that are labelled A to H. The stock assessment boundaries for the Ross Sea region include subarea 88.1, and SSRUs A and B in subarea 88.2, whereas the stock assessment for the Amundsen Sea region (described here) considers SSRUs C–H to be a distinct stock (Hanchet & Parker 2014; Parker et al. 2014). It is thought that spawning takes place on the northern seamounts in subarea 88.2 (SSRU H), with the larvae being transported by oceanographic processes to the east (SSRUs F–G).

Catch history

No catches were reported in the early years of the fishery (1997–2001). Catches have generally increased since 2002 as the TAC has increased (Figure 27.2). All reported catches are of Antarctic toothfish, although the TAC is for a combined ‘toothfish' category (both species). There was no effort by Australian operators in 2015–16.

FIGURE 27.2 Total catch and TAC for CCAMLR subarea 88.2, 1997 to 2016
Note: Catches from SSRU 88.2 A and 88.2 B are included in the total catches, despite being assessed as part of subarea 88.1.
Source: CCAMLR
Stock assessment

The most recent full stock assessment of Antarctic toothfish from CCAMLR subarea 88.2 SSRUs C–H was conducted in 2013 using the CASAL integrated assessment model (Mormede et al. 2013). The assessment included catch data and catch-at-age frequencies from 2003 to 2013 for each SSRU. In addition, tag–recapture data for SSRU H were included because fishing in the other SSRUs has been inconsistent. Constant recruitment was assumed across the SSRUs.

There were some conflicting results among the model runs, with some runs estimating unfished biomass to be lower than that estimated by earlier assessments completed in 2011 and 2013. The conflict was largely driven by the tagging data from SSRU H, which was considered reliable as a result of improved tagging and data collection procedures. In addition, the model runs with a reduced estimate of unfished biomass down-weighted the age data, which were limited and did not include SSRU H, the area from which most of the catch was taken.

The recommended model run down-weighted the age data and used the tagging data (Mormede et al. 2013). This model estimated the current level of biomass as 65 per cent of unfished levels (B2013/B0 = 0.65; range 0.52–0.75). This is lower than the 2011 estimate of 82 per cent of unfished biomass, but remains above the target reference point of 50 per cent. The 2013 Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment could not reach consensus on the assessment. It noted that the assessment may not be representative of SSRUs C–G because most of the data driving the results came from SSRU H (CCAMLR 2013).

The CCAMLR Scientific Committee provided updated advice on the TAC in 2014 based on two biomass estimates for SSRU H, using the mark–recapture data and Petersen models (Goncharov & Petrov 2014; Parker & Mormede 2014). These were simple models using tagging data for SSRU H only, and excluded all the other data that would be used in an integrated assessment. They did not provide new biomass depletion estimates for subarea 88.2, and consequently the estimate from the 2013 integrated assessment (65 per cent) remains the best biomass depletion estimate available.

Based on the results of the Petersen models, the TAC for subarea 88.2 SSRUs C–H was set at 619 t, with 200 t designated for SSRU H and the remaining 419 t for SSRUs C–G (CCAMLR 2015a, b). A yield of 619 t equates to 3 per cent of the estimated current biomass. Previous research has demonstrated that toothfish stocks that are fished at a rate of 3 per cent are likely to rebuild to the target level within two decades, even if currently near the limit reference point of 20 per cent of unfished biomass (Welsford 2011). Given the relatively high estimate of current biomass in subarea 88.2, this TAC is therefore regarded as conservative.

Stock status determination

Given the relatively high spawning biomass, which is above the target reference point under the CCAMLR harvest strategy, the stock is classified as not overfished. The TAC was set at a conservative level based on previous research and was fully taken. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has been largely eliminated by enforcement efforts. Given this precautionary approach, the limited entry to the fishery and the extensive CCAMLR review process, the stock is classified as not subject to overfishing.

Toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni, D. eleginoides) in division 58.4.1

Stock structure

Toothfish in division 58.4.1 is considered a single stock for management purposes.

Catch history

CCAMLR division 58.4.1 contains research blocks where exploratory fishing is permitted. Fishing has occurred in the division under licence since 2005, with TACs ranging from 210 to 724 t (Figure 27.3). Australia did not participate in the fishery before 2015–16, although some experimental trawling did occur in 1999–2000.

FIGURE 27.3 Total catch and TAC for CCAMLR division 58.4.1, 2005 to 2016
Note: TAC Total allowable catch. Contains small catches of Patagonian toothfish in some years.
Source: CCAMLR
Stock assessment

No reliable and accepted integrated stock assessment is available for division 58.4.1. Although some earlier studies applied different tag-based methods to obtain some indication of stock status, these were considered unreliable because of low tag returns (Agnew et al. 2008). The current level of biomass in division 58.4.1 is therefore unknown.

Fishing in the established research blocks, where previous tagging occurred and is ongoing, is intended to provide data for a future stock assessment. The participation of CCAMLR members in the fishery is restricted, and participants must provide a multiyear research plan that will provide data for a future stock assessment. IUU fishing, which has been a significant problem in CCAMLR toothfish fisheries in the past, has been largely eliminated by international enforcement efforts.

To set catch limits for exploratory fishing, biomass in each research block is estimated independently based on tag recoveries, or mean catch rate compared with an assessed area scaled by the seabed area in the block. The catch limits are then set so they do not exceed 3–4 per cent of estimated stock size. Previous modelling work has demonstrated that this level of harvest will likely allow an overfished stock (<20 per cent B0) to recover in the long term (Welsford 2011); it is unknown if the stock in division 58.4.1 is overfished.

Stock status determination

Given that there is no stock assessment for the entire division and no current overall estimate of biomass, the stock is classified as uncertain for overfished status. The catch limits set for each research block are based on assessed fisheries, and are set to a level low enough that an overfished stock could recover in the long term. The total catch for the division was below the TAC. In addition, IUU fishing has been eliminated and participation in the fishery restrained to a very low level. Given these factors, the stock is considered not subject to overfishing.

Fishing vessel and iceberg
Australian Longline

27.3 Economic status

Key economic trends

Australia began fishing subarea 88.2 in 2014–15. The total TAC for the subarea was caught in that period—with Australia capturing almost one-third of the TAC—indicating positive net economic returns (NER) for the fishery. Subarea 88.2 was not fished in 2015–16. Australia began fishing division 58.4.1 in 2015–16, catching 8 per cent of the TAC. Toothfish is a high-value species with well-established markets and supply chains, but fishing is undertaken in remote areas and under difficult operating conditions. While there is some potential for positive NER being generated by fishers, fishing has been sporadic, indicating some uncertainty for NER.

Management arrangements

The CCAMLR harvest strategy requires that the spawning biomass be 50 per cent of pre-fished levels at the end of a 35-year projection period. For subarea 88.2, however, the TAC was set by calculating current biomass and setting the TAC at 3 per cent of that biomass. This has previously been shown to be a precautionary method of setting the TAC, which is likely to allow stocks near the limit reference point to recover to the target level within two decades. A similar method is used to set the TAC for the research blocks in division 58.4.1. Since the current biomass in subarea 88.2 is estimated to be above the target reference point, the TAC is considered conservative. When the TAC is fully caught, the fishery is closed. Given the incomplete catch of the TAC, NER are uncertain in the fishery in a manner that is consistent with the conservative ecological objectives.

27.4 Environmental status

The fishery for toothfish in CCAMLR subareas 88.1 and 88.2 has been assessed as exempt from export controls under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 until 31 October 2019. The fishery in CCAMLR divisions 58.4.1 and 58.4.2 are exempt until 27 November 2020. No special recommendations were included in the assessments beyond the usual requirements to ensure proper reporting and notification of changes to management arrangements, and to implement relevant CCAMLR conservation measures. No ecological risk assessment has been undertaken for these fisheries.

In the 2015–16 fishing season, no logbook or observer reports noted interactions between the Australian vessel and protected species in CCAMLR division 58.4.1.

27.5 References

Agnew, DJ, Edwards, C, Hillary, R, Mitchell, R & López-Abellán, LJ 2008, Revised assessment of toothfish stocks in divisions 58.4.1 and 58.4.2, WG-FSA-08/43, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart.

CCAMLR 2013, Report of the Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, WG-FSA-13, Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources, Hobart.

—— 2015a, Report of the Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, WG-FSA-15, CCAMLR, Hobart.

—— 2015b, Report of the thirty-fourth meeting of the Scientific Committee, SC-CAMLR-XXXIV, CCAMLR, Hobart.

DAFF 2007, Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy: policy and guidelines, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.

Goncharov, SM & Petrov, AF 2014, Stock assessment and proposed TAC for Antarctic toothfish (TOA) in the subarea 88.2 H in the season 2014–15 (rev. 1), WG-FSA-14/14 rev. 1, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart.

Hanchet, SM & Parker, SJ 2014, Towards the development of an assessment of stock abundance for subarea 88.2 SSRUs 88.2C–G, WG-FSA-14/59, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart.

Kuhn, KL & Gaffney, PM 2008, ‘Population subdivision in the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) revealed by mitochondrial and nuclear single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)', Antarctic Science, vol. 20, pp. 327–38.

Mormede, S, Dunn, A & Hanchet, SM 2013, Assessment models for Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) in subarea 88.2 SSRUs 88.2C–H for the years 2002–03 to 2012–13, WG-FSA-13/52, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart.

Mugue, NS, Petrov, AF, Zelenina, DA, Gordeev, II & Sergeev, AA 2014, ‘Low genetic diversity and temporal stability in the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) from near-continental seas of Antarctica', CCAMLR Science, vol. 21, pp. 1–9.

Parker, SJ & Mormede, S 2014, Seamount-specific biomass estimates from SSRU 88.2H in the Amundsen Sea derived from mark–recapture data, WG-FSA-14/58, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart.

——, Hanchet, SM & Horn, PL 2014, Stock structure of Antarctic toothfish in statistical area 88 and implications for assessment and management, WG-SAM-14/26, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Statistics, Assessments and Modelling, Punta Arenas, Chile.

Petrov, AF & Tatarnikov, VA 2010, ‘New data on migrations of Antarctic toothfish Dissostichus mawsoni in the Dumont d'Urville Sea in the 2008/2009 season', Journal of Ichthyology, vol. 50, pp. 140–1.

Smith, PJ & Gaffney, PM 2005, ‘Low genetic diversity in the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) observed with mitochondrial and intron DNA markers', CCAMLR Science, vol. 12, pp. 43–51.

Tana, R, Hicks, BJ, Pilditch, C & Hanchet, SM 2014, Preliminary examination of otolith microchemistry to determine stock structure in Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) between SSRU 88.1C and 88.2H, WG-SAM-14/33, report to the CCAMLR Working Group on Statistics, Assessments and Modelling, Punta Arenas, Chile.

Welsford, DC 2011, ‘Evaluating the impact of multiyear research catch limits on overfished toothfish populations', CCAMLR Science, vol. 18, pp. 47–55.

——, Candy, SG, Lamb, TD, Nowara, GB, Constable, AJ & Williams, R 2011, ‘Habitat use by Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides Smitt 1898) on the Kerguelen Plateau around Heard Island and the McDonald Island', in G Duhamel & DC Welsford (eds), First symposium on the Kerguelen Plateau: marine ecosystems and fisheries, Societe Francaise d'Ichtyologie, Paris, pp. 125–36.

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Last reviewed:
13 Feb 2018