4th November 2011: CCAMLR results “astounding”

Today saw the completion of the 30th annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart, Australia.  CCAMLR has 26 member nations and is part of the Antarctic Treaty System.   It is responsible for the balance of the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources and their rational use.

Members of the Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators (COLTO) fish in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters, and participate in CCAMLR meetings as observers.  COLTO members provide significant amounts of research information and data to the Commission from their vessels, and are monitored by international scientific observers on all their fishing activities.    This year, COLTO members applauded the results from CCAMLR which show continued reduced Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) catches of toothfish, and which demonstrated the success of protection measures to avoid accidental catch of seabirds during fishing operations.

COLTO Chairman, Martin Exel, stated “Two achievements of CCAMLR in particular are astounding, and unparalleled in the context of international fisheries resources management. 

IUU catches of toothfish have been reduced by 95% from peak levels in 1996.   Within those figures, the IUU catches of Patagonian toothfish (aka Chilean Sea Bass)* have been reduced by 99.9% to virtually zero, throughout the CCAMLR region.  Coming from a position 10 years ago where IUU catches threatened populations of toothfish, I believe these results are incredible” he stated.   

“This massive reduction of IUU fishing has come about as a result of strong collaboration and cooperation between legal industry members, CCAMLR, and conservation groups”, Exel said. He pointed to the significant efforts taken over recent years on surveillance and enforcement by Australia, France, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.   COLTO members also believe the presence of legal fishermen provides a deterrent for IUU operators. 

Results from the CCAMLR meeting show IUU fishing for Antarctic toothfish ‘..continued at a relatively low level..” in one high seas region, outside the control of CCAMLR and of national jurisdictions.   COLTO members are continuing to work with CCAMLR to eliminate this toothfish piracy.

Mr Exel also highlighted the success of CCAMLR for its conservation measures designed and implemented in conjunction with COLTO to protect seabirds, as well as congratulating legal operators for their ability to implement innovative measures to avoid incidental capture of seabirds. 

 It was reported by the Chairman of the Scientific Committee that levels of seabird deaths as a result of fishing in most of the Convention area were “..negligible..”.   It was also notable that the Executive Secretary of the Agreement for the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels** commended CCAMLR this year on its successful protection measures for seabird.

The single region where seabird interactions occurred in 2010/11, has seen a 98% reduction in interaction rates over the past decade through the use of CCAMLR mitigation measures implemented by COLTO members.     COLTO members are continuing to work with CCAMLR to ensure minimal impacts of fishing on seabird populations continue.


For more information, contact Martin Exel +61 413 595 532 (timezone GMT +11)

* There are two species of toothfish.     Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides – also known as Chilean Sea Bass) are generally found in and around sub-Antarctic and National waters of CCAMLR members.    Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) are found in Antarctic waters, generally south of 60 degrees South, off the Antarctic continent.  Data on IUU catch levels is sourced from the Scientific Committee of CCAMLR, as reported in SC-CAMLR XXIX, Table 6, Annex 8, with peak IUU catch of Patagonian toothfish at 32,673 tonnes in 1996/97.

** See www.acap.org