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

  • Stuart Hanchet (a1), Keith Sainsbury (a2), Doug Butterworth (a3), Chris Darby (a4), Viacheslav Bizikov (a5), Olav Rune Godø (a6), Taro Ichii (a7), Karl-Hermann Kock (a8), Luis López Abellán (a9) and Marino Vacchi (a10)...

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.

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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 (
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Antarctic Science
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