At CCAMLR-XXVI the Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment (WG-FSA) noted a lack of specific reference material for the identification of benthic invertebrates in areas specific to which observers carry out their activities (SC-CAMLR-XXVI: Annex 5, paragraph 6.32). To improve the standard of observer identifications and also to assist in the identification of vulnerable areas, the Scientific Committee requested that guides be prepared for the identification of benthic organisms (SC-CAMLR-XXVI: paragraph 4.190). In response to this recommendation Australia has developed the “Field identification guide to Heard Island and McDonald Island (HIMI) benthic invertebrates”. This Fisheries Research and Development Commission (FRDC), Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and industry funded production is first of its kind for the region, and is intended to be used as both a training tool prior to deployment at-sea, as well as for use by trained observers to make accurate identifications of invertebrate by-catch when operating in the HIMI region. Based on available data, this publication will include instructions to observers for collection of benthic organisms at sea, quick-reference pictorial guides to invertebrate phyla, common species and CCAMLR identification codes, and detailed identification notes for each phylum including representative images for more than 400 benthic organisms identified from the HIMI region thus far. This guide will enable observers to gather invertebrate by-catch data at higher taxonomic resolutions. We encourage the development of similar guides for training purposes and at-sea use by observers in other CCAMLR designated fisheries and that CCAMLR consider adopting the numerical Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) as an interim coding system to improve the resolution of benthic by-catch data.
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