Three aspects of current management of the “exploratory” Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) fishery in Area 88 indicates that less-than-full precaution is being exercised in the face of climate-related environmental changes currently underway. These aspects are: 1) lack of knowledge about how environmental variability affects this species’ recruitment; 2) an inherent sensitivity of this species to climate-related factors; and 3) an increase in that sensitivity owing to the targeted removal of the oldest, most successful and most fecund toothfish. The current strategy is to deplete the pre-fished biomass slowly but ultimately by 50% by about 2025 (Pinkerton et al. 2007), i.e. not all at once. Based on information in the literature not available when the current CCAMLR Area 88 Antarctic toothfish management was formulated, we discuss why such a strategy is unlikely to result in a sustainable fishery, and we propose solutions to the problem.
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