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Patagonian Toothfish

Dissostichus eleginoides

  • Heather Patterson (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Commonwealth Heard Island and McDonald Islands HIMIF Sustainable Spawning stock biomass, projected biomass
Commonwealth Macquarie Island MITF Sustainable Spawning stock biomass, projected biomass
HIMIF
Heard Island and McDonald Island Fishery (CTH)
MITF
Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (CTH)
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Stock Structure

Genetic studies have found that Patagonian Toothfish at Macquarie Island, and at Heard Island and the McDonald Islands, are two distinct biological stocks1. However, there is some level of exchange between the Heard Island and McDonald Islands stock and the Kerguelen Plateau stock2.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Heard Island and McDonald Islands; and at the biological stock level—Macquarie Island.

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Stock Status

Heard Island and McDonald Islands

The Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery (Commonwealth) (HIMIF) falls within the Convention Area of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marline Living Resources (CCAMLR). This inter-governmental organisation was established to conserve and manage the Southern Ocean Antarctic ecosystem. CCAMLR employs precautionary harvest strategies that consider the role of target species within the larger ecosystem. For Patagonian Toothfish, the CCAMLR harvest strategy reference points require that the median escapement of the spawning biomass at the end of a 35-year projection period be 50 per cent of median pre-exploitation level and that the probability of the spawning biomass dropping below 20 per cent of the pre-exploitation median level is less than 10 per cent. Although the HIMIF falls within the CCAMLR area, the HIMIF is an Australian territory and is fished by Australian vessels only.

The most recent assessment of HIMIF Patagonian Toothfish2,3 estimates that biomass in 2015 was 64 per cent of pre-exploitation levels2,3. The management unit is not considered to be recruitment overfished4. A catch limit of 3405 tonnes (t), which meets the CCAMLR harvest strategy requirements, was recommended by CCAMLR3,5. It is estimated that the projected biomass will not fall below 50 per cent of the pre-exploitation level after a 35-year projection period under that catch limit. This level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished4.

Based on the evidence provided above, the Heard Island and McDonald Islands management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island is an Australian territory that lies adjacent to, but not within, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marline Living Resources (CCAMLR) area. Although not under CCAMLR jurisdiction, for consistency the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (Commonwealth) is managed using the CCAMLR harvest strategy with the same decision rules used in the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery (Commonwealth).

The most recent assessment6 of Macquarie Island Patagonian Toothfish estimates that biomass in 2015 was 69 per cent of pre-exploitation levels. The biological stock is not considered to be recruitment overfished7,8. The CCAMLR decision rules were used to calculate the catch limit of 460 t. This ensures that the projected biomass is not below 50 per cent after a 35-year projection period under that catch limit. This level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished7,8.

Based on the evidence provided above, the Macquarie Island biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Patagonian Toothfish ~50 years; ~2 000 mm  TL  11–15 years (males); 12–17 years (females) ~915 mm  TL (males); 1000+ mm TL (females)

Patagonian Toothfish biology2,9

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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Patagonian Toothfish

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Tables

Fishing methods
Commonwealth
Commercial
Demersal Longline
Recreational
Spearfishing
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Indigenous
Unspecified
Management methods
Method Commonwealth
Commercial
Area restrictions
Catch limits
Individual transferable quota
Active vessels
Commonwealth
6 in HIMIF, 1 in MITF
HIMIF
Heard Island and McDonald Island Fishery (CTH)
MITF
Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (CTH)
Catch
Commonwealth
Commercial 4.28Kt in HIMIF, 324.50t in MITF
Indigenous None
Recreational None
HIMIF
Heard Island and McDonald Island Fishery (CTH)
MITF
Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (CTH)

Recreationala,b Commercialc Indigenousd

a The Australian Government does not manage recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters. Recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters, under its management regulations.

b There is no recreational or Indigenous fishing for Patagonian Toothfish.

c The most recent data available for the Heard Island and McDonalds Islands Fishery (HIMIF) is for the 2014–15 fishing season. The most recent data available for the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (MITF) is for the 2015–16 fishing season.

d The Australian Government does not manage non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters, with the exception of the Torres Strait. In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Patagonian Toothfish

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Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • Three ecological risk assessments (by gear type including demersal trawl, midwater trawl and demersal longline), on non-target species in the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery (Commonwealth) (HIMIF) found that the risk to the sustainability of non-target species was low and no species was determined to be at high risk10.
  • Australia implements regulations, in line with those of Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marline Living Resources, to minimise the environmental impact of fisheries in the HIMIF and in the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (Commonwealth)11. These include bycatch mitigation measures such as weighted longlines and bird scaring lines; specific reporting requirements for seabird or marine mammal interactions; bycatch catch limits; bycatch and offal discharge restrictions; closed areas and a requirement to carry two scientific observers.
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Environmental effects on Patagonian Toothfish

  • Sea surface temperature has been demonstrated to impact recruitment of Patagonian Toothfish12. However, the full impact of climate change on Patagonian Toothfish stocks is currently unclear, although Patagonian Toothfish may demonstrate a level of resilience to environmental change as they can migrate large distances13.
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References

  1. 1 Appleyard, SA, Ward, RD & Williams, R 2002, Population structure of Patagonian Toothfish around Heard, McDonald and Macquarie Islands, Antarctic Science, 14: 364– 373.
  2. 2 Welsford, DC, McIvor, J, Candy, SG & Nowara, GB 2012, The spawning dynamics of Patagonian toothfish in the Australian EEZ at Heard Island and the McDonald Islands and their importance to spawning activity across the Kerguelen Plateau, FRDC Project TRF 2010/064, Canberra.
  3. 3 Ziegler, P & Welsford D 2015, An integrated stock assessment for the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) Fishery in Division 58.5.2, WG-FSA-15/52, CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart, 5–16 October 2015.
  4. 4 Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living resources 2015, Report of the Working Group of Fish Stock Assessment, WG-FSA-15, CCAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment, Hobart, 5–16 October 2015.
  5. 5 Patterson, H & Savage, J 2016, Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery, in H Patterson, Noriega, R, L Georgeson, I Stobutzki & R Curtotti (eds), Fishery status reports 2016, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra, 421–431.
  6. 6 Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living resources 2015, Report of the thirty-fourth meeting of the   Scientific Committee, SC-CAMLR-XXXIV, CCAMLR Scientific Committee, Hobart, 19–23 October 2015.
  7. 7 Day, J, Wayte, S, Haddon, M & Hillary, R 2015, Stock assessment of the Macquarie Island fishery for Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides), using data up to and including August 2014, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart.
  8. 8 Patterson, H & Savage, J 2016, Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery, in H Patterson, Noriega, R, L Georgeson, I Stobutzki & R Curtotti (eds), Fishery status reports 2016, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra, 432–438.
  9. 9 Collins, MA, Brickle, P, Brown, J & Belchier, M 2010, Chapter Four – The Patagonian toothfish: Biology, Ecology and Fishery, Advances in Marine Science, 58: 227-300.
  10. 10 Zhou, S, Fuller, M & Smith, T 2009, Rapid quantitative risk assessment for fish species in seven Commonwealth fisheries, report for the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  11. 11 Australian Fisheries Management Authority 2013, Bycatch and discarding workplan: Australian sub-Antarctic fisheries, AFMA, Canberra.
  12. 12 Belchier, M & Collins, MA 2008, Recruitment and body size in relation to temperature in juvenile Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) at South Georgia, Marine Biology, 155: 493–503.
  13. 13 Constable, AJ, Melbourne-Thomas, J, Corney, SP, et al. 2014, Climate change and Southern Ocean ecosystems I: how changes in physical habitats directly affect marine biota, Global Change Biology, 20: 3004–3025.

Archived reports

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