Two scientific research voyages were undertaken on board the RRS James Clark Ross in the South Orkney Islands region during the 2015/16 austral summer. These surveys together involved scientific collaborators from 11 countries, including 9 CCAMLR Members. This major research effort will inform the further development of spatial management, including feedback management of the krill fishery, in this region.
The South Orkneys Ecosystems Studies cruise (SOES, Jan-Feb 2016) was led by the UK and Norway, and focused on the krill-based ecosystem in the main fishing area in Subarea 48.2 undertaken in the austral summer of 2015-16. It collected at-sea data on the distribution, abundance and behaviour of krill and its predators across a range of temporal and spatial scales using acoustics, nets and cameras. The research vessel data are linked to complementary studies undertaken from a commercial fishing vessel and field camps on Monroe Island, Powell Island and at Signy where satellite tracking of penguins and fur seals was undertaken. These data sets and the expected outputs will provide key information on important interactions between krill, krill predators and the commercial fishery that will be an important contribution to developing spatial management and krill feedback management strategies.
The South Orkneys State of the Antarctic Ecosystem cruise (SO-AntEco, Feb-Mar 2016) was led by the UK, and aimed to investigate the distribution and composition of the benthic communities associated with different geomorphic features both within and outside the South Orkney Islands Southern Shelf (SOISS) Marine Protected Area (MPA). The expedition used a range of scientific sampling gear and video and photographic equipment to investigate species diversity, assemblage composition, abundance and habitat zonation along the shelf break of the South Orkney Islands. The results from these investigations will enable us to ascertain whether there are characteristic indicator species prevalent in each proxy geomorphic habitat. The expedition also aimed to map the locations and distributions of all species found that were identified as VME indicator taxa.