Welcome to our website, which I hope will provide you with a much improved understanding of the health and sustainability of our toothfish stocks, along with a greater appreciation of the history of our unique fisheries in the Southern Ocean, and around the Antarctic continent.
Toothfish fisheries today provide a powerful example of how well effective collaboration and co-operation can work between legal industry, conservation groups, national governments, and an international conservation commission, CCAMLR. This unique co-operation resulted in better fisheries resources management, virtual elimination of IUU fishing for toothfish, and significant benefits to ecologically related species. Few people recognise that seabird mitigation measures from toothfish fisheries have become the global example for other industries to minimise and avoid seabird interactions. That’s because our toothfish management explicitly takes into account not just the fish, but the ecosystems they live in, and other species they are linked with. This is evident as there are now multiple toothfish fisheries that are certified as sustainable and well managed fisheries by the Marine Stewardship Council.
COLTO was founded by legal industry members to eliminate IUU fishing for toothfish. The results are a success story of collaboration yet to be told. At that time, estimates of IUU catches were double the legal catches of toothfish – mainly being illegally taken from within national EEZs. Through the combined efforts of CCAMLR, Flag States, Port States, conservation NGOs and industry, those levels of IUU fishing inside national EEZs have been virtually zero since 2005. The remaining IUU catches of toothfish are at low levels and occur on the high seas, away from legal fisheries, and outside the jurisdiction of Member nations of CCAMLR.
We also continue to work within the rigorous catch documentation and compliance requirements developed in CCAMLR that our major markets require (eg. Europe, USA, Japan and China). Those requirements ensure that you, the public, can be assured you’re eating only legally caught toothfish, from sustainably managed fisheries.
COLTO members’ fishing boats are monitored during every fishing trip by at least one government observer, and often two. Our boats are monitored by satellite from the time they leave port to go fishing, until they return home to port – sending accurate position reports to government authorities many times a day, every day they are at sea. In addition we undertake daily catch reporting, biological sampling, tagging and release programs, scientific research for stock assessment and so on – there are a vast number of conservation and ecosystem-based regulations which apply to our fishing operations to avoid or mitigate impacts on ecologically related species, such as seabirds and marine mammals. Just one of the positive effects of all of these regulations is that seabird deaths caused by fishing are near-zero in Southern Ocean toothfish fisheries.
I recommend you visit the CCAMLR website to get an idea of how it’s been possible to ensure sustainable harvesting of toothfish continues, and to investigate the background on how CCAMLR Member nations, along with industry and conservation groups, worked together to eliminate the threat of IUU fishing. Toothfish stock assessments, including working group reports, scientific reports, and decisions made by the Commission, are all available on the website for anyone to see.
Unfortunately, a number of websites and information sources have not been updated to take account of our success in CCAMLR at eliminating IUU fishing for toothfish, and continue to rate the fisheries as under substantial threat from IUU, which they no longer are. We are pleased to advise that we are currently working with a number of these organisations in updating their webpages with up to date, internationally peer reviewed science. As legal operators, I hope that our website will help you better understand that toothfish fisheries, while once under threat from IUU fishing, are now sustainable, healthy, and worthy of your support.
If you would like more information, or have any suggestions we can use to further improve our fisheries, I’d be pleased to hear them on email email@example.com.
Thank you for your support.
Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators