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Benchmark for So. Georgia and Falklands Fisheries



A report for BBC World Service “Calling the Falklands” by Dee Palmer (DP) 22/11/05


Dr. David Agnew (DA), a Fisheries Expert, who advises the Governments of the Falklands and South Georgia, recently attended the annual meeting of CCAMLR (the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources).  It’s the international body which aims to protect marine life in the Southern Ocean and regulates fishing activities there.  I asked David how CCAMLR Delegates view the way that fishing around the Falklands and South Georgia is managed.


DA:  Generally it is very favourably.  It’s acknowledged that the actions on the ElQue and the prosecutions of Isba Quinto and Jaquilene, for instance, were well, or reasonably well received, although it’s considered to be the UK’s business and therefore not something that the CCAMLR Community really comments on to a great extent.  It’s notable that this year we had a very good performance in terms of compliance at South Georgia and the relatively very low catches of birds that were made in the Long-line fishery for Toothfish and also the patrol fishery for Icefish.  So, that saw improving.  In fact, most of the birds seem to have been caught on hauling rather than setting.


DP:  So that’s when the hooks are actually pulled back out of the water?  How do the birds get killed there?


DA:  They are coming up to the hauling point and picking up hooks by attacking bait that hasn’t been taken by Toothfish or anything else that sits hanging off the lines.  So, they can get fouled in hooks.  And, even if they are released they may not be in the best condition when they are released and that’s the reason for us estimating that some deaths are associated with that.  Bur, really we are talking very small numbers.  So, we are really doing a very good job there.


DP:  What about Toothfish stocks around South Georgia?  How is that going?


DA:  As you probably know, we’ve had five or six years now of tagging, which is proving extremely successful and has allowed us to make population assessments for the last two years that are based on current estimates of biomass of around about 54,000 tonnes of exportable biomass.  And, we’ve done a lot of work this year looking at the survivorship of animals once they’ve been tagged and the return rates and the movement rates of animals. And, it’s also notable that the Ross Sea Fisheries also are now being assessed using tags.  They are looking at tag estimates for the populations around Herd Island.  The French are starting tagging at Crozet.  The South Africans are doing the same and it looks like for Toothfish this is going to be the assessment method of choice.  Now, it’s unfortunate that the Argentine tagging programme has stopped through lack of funds.  But if there was a tagging programme on the Patagonian Shelf, Falklands and Argentine tagging efforts.  That would really help the population assessment there as well.  It looks like for all the new fisheries that is what we are going to be doing.


DP:  So, what has been happening in South Georgia waters in the last few years is really proved to be a model for other fisheries.


DA:  Yes.  It’s proved to be rather successful indeed.  We are going to be extending that tagging  to the South Sandwich Islands over the next three years.  We have a programme of experimental tagging at South Sandwich, which after 3 or 4 years will give us a reasonable population estimate of Toothfish there and that is something that has previously alluded us.


The interview continues and Icefish and Krill will be discussed in part 2.


(100X Transcription Service)

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