Today marks the opening of the inaugural COLTO Depredation Workshop, in Punta Arenas, Chile. The event has been co-sponsored by generous hosts AOBAC, Kendell Seafood, and WWF Australia.
Attendees to the workshop will include fishermen, vessel owners and operators, fisheries scientists and government regulators from all the major toothfish fisheries. These COLTO Members and associated scientists/regulators will also be very lucky to have along three experts from the Alaskan Sablefish fishery, who operate in a similar style fishery in the Northern Hemisphere, and have had depredation issues for over 20 years.
The aims of the Depredation Workshop are to investigate Sperm whale and Killer whale depredation on Toothfish longline fisheries, including assessment of the socio-economic and conservation impacts of depredation; the impacts on depredated Toothfish in a fisheries management context; and the development of mitigation solutions. More specifically, the expected outcomes are:
- to develop a standardized data collection methodology to be implemented in all Toothfish fisheries;
- to accurately assess the levels and the trends of depredation in Toothfish fisheries;
- to agree on a consistent method across fisheries to account for depredated fish in stock assessment procedures; and
- to identify mitigation solutions and strategies to reduce depredation, based on technical, operational (i.e. behaviour of vessels/skippers) and behavioural (i.e. behaviour of marine mammals) studies.
The Workshop will also aim to develop management strategies to prevent depredation from starting, and subsequently spreading, in fishing areas where it has not yet been reported.
For the lucky ones that have the time, the workshop will morph into a sightseeing tour to Torres del Paine National Park for two days of magnificent views of mountains, lakes, glaciers and good company.