CCAMLR continues efforts to protect toothfish

The nineteenth meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR XIX) took place in Hobart from 23 October to 3 November 2000. Twenty-two of the 23 Members of the Commission were represented, including Australia. Also participating were several States in their capacity as Parties to the Convention on CAMLR, States not Party to the Convention but having an interest in fishing for or trading in Patagonian toothfish, intergovernmental organisations, regional fisheries management organisations and conservation organisations.

An important outcome of CCAMLR XIX was the adoption of further measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing for Patagonian toothfish. A key element of this was significant improvement to the CCAMLR Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS) for toothfish. This requires all CCAMLR Members, which form about 95% of the global toothfish market, to only accept catches whose origins have been documented under the Scheme.

There have been further improvements in the relationship between CCAMLR and States not party to the Convention but which are involved in harvesting of toothfish in the Convention Area. In this regard the Parties were particularly encouraged by the announcement by the recently elected Mauritian government that it will implement the CDS and is considering denying IUU fishing vessels access to its ports. Mauritius is also considering acceding to CCAMLR. The importance of this is highlighted by CCAMLR estimates that about 50% of IUU caught toothfish taken in 2000 were landed in Mauritius.

The Parties also welcomed the announcement by Namibia that, as part of its efforts to combat IUU fishing, it has become a Party to the Convention and has closed its ports to IUU fishing vessels.

Other developments at CCAMLR saw further support for using a scientifically-based approach to achieve a sensible balance between conservation and rational use. This includes the adoption of measures that require fishers undertaking exploratory fishing to also undertake research to gather the data needed for future management of the fishery. There was also agreement, following several years of zero real growth, to increased funding for the extensive work program set by CCAMLR for its permanent Secretariat, headquartered in Hobart.

CCAMLR will continue its work to conserve the living marine resources of the Southern Ocean when it meets again in Hobart later this year. The twentieth meetings are scheduled for 29 October to 9 November 2001.

Ian Hay
Senior Policy Officer,
Australian Antarctic Division