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CCAMLR’s precautionary approach to management focusing on Ross Sea toothfish fishery

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 February 2015

Stuart Hanchet*
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), PO Box 893, Nelson, New Zealand
Keith Sainsbury
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart TAS 7004, Australia
Doug Butterworth
Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Chris Darby
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Fisheries Laboratory, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft NR33 7SS, UK
Viacheslav Bizikov
Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO), 17 V. Krasnoselskaya, Moscow 107140, Russia
Olav Rune Godø
Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Nordnesgaten 50 N-5817, Bergen, Norway
Taro Ichii
National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, 2-12-4 Fiukuura, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 236-8648, Japan
Karl-Hermann Kock
Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry & Fisheries, Sea Fisheries Institute, Palmaille 9, D-22767 Hamburg, Germany
Luis López Abellán
Spanish Institute of Oceanography, via Espaldón, Dársena Pesquera, PCL 8, 38180 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Marino Vacchi
Institute of Marine Sciences (ISMAR–CNR), via de Marini 6, 16149 Genoa, Italy


Several recent papers have criticized the scientific robustness of the fisheries management system used by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), including that for Ross Sea toothfish. Here we present a response from the wider CCAMLR community to address concerns and to correct some apparent misconceptions about how CCAMLR acts to promote conservation whilst allowing safe exploitation in all of its fisheries. A key aspect of CCAMLR’s approach is its adaptive feedback nature; regular monitoring and analysis allows for adjustments to be made, as necessary, to provide a robust management system despite the statistical uncertainties inherent in any single assessment. Within the Ross Sea, application of CCAMLR’s precautionary approach has allowed the toothfish fishery to develop in a steady fashion with an associated accumulation of data and greater scientific understanding. Regular stock assessments of the fishery have been carried out since 2005, and the 2013 stock assessment estimated current spawning stock biomass to be at 75% of the pre-exploitation level. There will always be additional uncertainties which need to be addressed, but where information is lacking the CCAMLR approach to management ensures exploitation rates are at a level commensurate with a precautionary approach.

Biological Sciences
© Antarctic Science Ltd 2015 

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The authors recognize that whilst abstracts of CCAMLR Working Group papers are available on the CCAMLR website, the full papers are only available from the author or their Scientific Committee representative. Therefore, to increase the accessibility of these papers, all of the cited Working Group papers have been uploaded to the NIWA website ( Scholar
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