In this paper, we briefly review recent environmental information for the Antarctic Peninsula, highlighting how both natural variability in near-surface air temperatures and longer term changes in the oceanic domain add to the complexity of managing the Antarctic krill fishery, particularly at small spatial scales. We present an example during the early Austral summer of 2015/2016, when sea ice conditions were extensive and led to unusual foraging conditions for gentoo penguins. Conditions were such, that gentoo reproductive performance was lower than average, and at some locations, mortality events were observed. Fishing in close proximity to some colonies also occurred and it is plausible that removals of even small amounts of krill could have reduced foraging opportunities. We discuss three management tools that could provide conservation benefits for near-shore krill-dependent species, particularly during periods when environmental variability might mean that potential impacts of fishing are difficult to predict. These management methods include: (i) coastal buffers closed to fishing, (ii) closed areas during critical ecological time periods, and (iii) harvesting limits and move-on rules. We discuss the potential impacts upon the fishery arising from these methods. We show that designating coastal buffers closed to fishing during the penguin breeding season could reduce krill catches by approximately 30,000 tonnes, but that this catch could be recovered either offshore, or after penguin breeding is complete. We note that use of these tools would increase CCAMLR’s leadership in precautionary fisheries management and enhance its public image.
Dr Chris Darby (United Kingdom)