Exploratory fishing for Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) in East Antarctica (Divisions 58.4.1 and 58.4.2) began in 2003. While preliminary integrated stock assessments have been developed for these Divisions, robust estimates of stock biomass and precautionary catch limits according to CCAMLR decision rules remain to be determined.
In 2016, WG-FSA-16/29 outlined the first multi-member research plan for the exploratory toothfish fishery in East Antarctica up to 2017/18, and the Scientific Committee agreed that this plan was appropriate to achieve the research objectives (SC-CAMLR-2016 para. 3.244). The updated multi-member research plan was again supported by the Scientific Committee in 2017 (SC-CCAMLR-2017 para. 3.117). Research progress including the evaluation of standard approaches to identify precautionary catch limits and bycatch mitigation suggested a low risk profile for this fishery.
In 2018, WG-FSA-18/59 presented a new proposal for a multi-member research plan for this exploratory toothfish fishery from 2018/19 to 2021/22. This proposal was a continuation of the previous research plan without changes to the research design, however the Scientific Committee could not reach consensus on this research plan due to the proposed use of different gear types in Division 58.4.1. Since then, exploratory fishing under this research plan has been conducted in Division 58.4.2 by two members using autoline, but no exploratory fishing for toothfish has been allowed in Division 58.4.1.
Here, we propose a new research plan for 2022/23 to 2025/26, in accordance with Annex 24-01/A, Format 2, to continue research in the exploratory fishery in Divisions 58.4.1 and 58.4.2. The spatial design of this plan has been reviewed in WG-SAM-2022/xx. This plan has been designed again as a 4-year plan, based on the low risk profile of this fishery and to allow more time for review of stock assessments by Working Groups in ‘non-assessment’ years.
The updated ‘CCAMLR Research Plan - Research Proponent Self-Assessment’ can be found in Appendix 2, and the description of vessel tagging procedures following the survey questionnaire (see Comm Circ-21-54 and SC-Circ-21-68) in Appendix 3.