We the undersigned wish to bring to your attention a potentially grave situation that needs to be addressed without significant delay. Together we have worked in the Ross Sea and vicinity for more than 300 person-years, and in the process have gained considerable knowledge about the Ross Sea ecosystem. Several recent findings indicate that the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) is rapidly disappearing from McMurdo Sound and vicinity, coincident with the maturation of the Ross Sea toothfish fishery from its initial experimental stage to its current near-quota status. Evidence is detailed in the EMM submitted document, “Decline of the Antarctic toothfish and its predators in McMurdo Sound and the southern Ross Sea, and recommendations for restoration.” We are concerned that this is the first sign that the Ross Sea ecosystem is being irreparably altered, and the 40-50 year time series of unequaled climate records and responses of the biota to climate change are in jeopardy of being compromised. The Ross Sea climate record heretofore had been free of confounding factors related to fishing and other, direct anthropogenic factors.
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