Exploratory fishing for toothfish (Dissostichus spp.) in East Antarctica (Divisions 58.4.1 and 58.4.2) began in 2003. Robust stock assessments and catch limits according to CCAMLR decision rules remain to be determined for these Divisions. WG-FSA-16/29 outlined the first multi-member toothfish exploratory fishery research plan up to 2017/18 for East Antarctica, which the Scientific Committee agreed was appropriate to achieve the research objectives (SC-CAMLR-XXXV, para. 3.244). Subsequent research progress including evaluation of standard approaches to identify precautionary catch limits (WG-FSA-17 para. 4.28-4.38) and bycatch mitigation (Maschette et al. 2017), suggests a low risk profile for this fishery. Furthermore, examination of bycatch data and underwater video footage have not led to the identification of vulnerable marine ecosystem (VME) indicator species (Maschette et al. 2017). Final milestone results for the current research plan will be presented to WG-FSA-18. Here, we present a succeeding research proposal for 2018/19 to 2021/22, in accordance with ANNEX 24-01/A, Format 2. This succeeding plan has been designed as a 4-year plan, based on the low risk profile of this fishery and to allow more time for review by Working Groups of major reporting and review years in non-stock-assessment years. In this document we propose draft research objectives and an approach to review the locations of research blocks based on WG-SAM-11 para. 2.40. Based on WG-SAM-18 discussions and final milestone results for the current research plan, we will further develop the objectives and the locations of research blocks of this research plan for WG-FSA-18. In addition, the current genetics work (Maschette et al. 2018) will provide information on the stock structure of Antarctic toothfish in East Antarctica in relation to the wider Southern Ocean, and whether the species is suitable for an abundance estimate using a close-kin mark-recapture method.
Dr Peter Yates (Australia)
Dr Dirk Welsford (Australia)