The spatial distribution of the Antarctic krill fishery in Subareas 48.1 to 48.3 has changed over time. The majority of catches in Subarea 48.1 are now taken south of the South Shetland Islands, following regional decreases in seasonal sea-ice cover. As the cumulative spatial footprint of the fishery has expanded along the West Antarctic Peninsula, the cumulative numbers of krill-eating penguin colonies that are close to the fisheries footprint have also increased. As yet, it is not clear whether this has lead to competition for resources between the fishery and these penguins. Such competition would occur where there is significant functional overlap (that is, the fishery and the penguins target the same type types of krill swarms in the same places). In contrast to Subarea 48.1, the fishery footprint in Subarea 48.2 has stayed relatively constant over time. This contrast offers the potential for an experiment to establish whether functional overlap occurs and how it affects penguin colonies. Such an experiment would necessarily require endorsement by the Scientific Committee and the Commission. If CCAMLR decides not to engage in the necessary experiments to establish the degree to which functional overlap occurs, other measures, consistent with the precautionary approach, should be considered.
Professor Philip Trathan