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Managing Antarctic fishing


The International Setting

The Antarctic Treaty System allows for fishing in the Southern Ocean but sets strong emphasis on management that is conservative and precautionary in terms of safeguarding the target species and other parts of the ecosystem from detrimental effects of fishing.

The principles of management are given in the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The organisation charged with finding the balance between fishing and conservation is CCAMLR (the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources). This organisation is based in Hobart, Australia, and holds regular meetings through the year.

New Zealand position

The New Zealand government has decided that New Zealand fishing companies are allowed to take part in Antarctic fisheries in the Ross Sea. See the New Zealand Ross Sea Strategy.

New Zealand has committed itself to working within the CCAMLR management framework to improve the quality of the fisheries management in the Southern Ocean and to develop protected areas.

New Zealand's involvement with the Antarctic Treaty System and CCAMLR is managed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Government funds allocated to scientific research to support the process are administered by the Ministry of Primary Industries.

Management of The Ross Sea Toothfish fishery

Recent research

Several recent papers have criticised the robustness of the scientific basis of the fisheries management system used by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), including that for Ross Sea toothfish. A response from the wider CCAMLR community has recently been developed to address concerns and to correct some apparent misconceptions about how CCAMLR acts to promote conservation whilst allowing safe exploitation in all of its fisheries (Hanchet et al. in press).

Hanchet, S.M.; Sainsbury, K.; Butterworth, D.; Darby, C.; Bizikov, V.; Rune Godø, O.; Ichii, T.; Kock, K-H; López Abellán, L.; Vacchi, M. (in press). CCAMLR’s precautionary approach to management of Ross Sea toothfish fishery. Antarctic Science 2015: xx.

The paper presented a review of the means by which CCAMLR’s fisheries are managed, with a particular focus on the Ross Sea toothfish fishery. The authors noted that within the Ross Sea, application of CCAMLR’s precautionary approach had allowed the toothfish fishery to develop in a steady fashion with an associated accumulation of data and greater scientific understanding and that spawning stock biomass is currently estimated to be at 75% of the pre-exploitation level. The authors recognised that CCAMLR Working Group papers are only available from the author or their Scientific Committee representative and so to increase their accessibility all of the Working Group papers cited in the paper have been made available here on the NIWA website.

See a list of CCAMLR Working Group Papers referenced in the paper.

Back to Ross Sea research homepage.