Patagonian toothfish caught by Australian fishers has been labeled ‘best choice’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, less than a year after the fisheries’ independent certification as sustainable and well managed.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBAQ) provides ‘ocean friendly’ purchasing advice to consumers on over 2400 fisheries around the world and is widely respected for the high quality and independence of its work.

Australia has two fisheries for Patagonian toothfish (also known as Chilean Seabass) — the Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery and the Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) Fishery. Both fisheries were accredited as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council last year, after years of scientific research and the adoption of conservation and management measures in the region, through the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) (see Subantarctic toothfish fishery certified sustainable).

‘The Patagonian toothfish fishery was once plagued by illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing,’ said Australian Antarctic Division fisheries research scientist, Dr Dirk Welsford.

‘However, a collaborative effort by industry, government and conservation groups has seen illegal fishing of toothfish decline significantly and no illegal fishing vessels have been sighted in the Australian Fishing Zone since January 2004.

‘Now, the MBAQ has reviewed all the available information relating to the collaborative research and management efforts of the Australian Antarctic Division, the HIMI fishery, CCAMLR, and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, and this best choice label reflects those efforts.’

The MBAQ report synthesizes and analyzes the most current ecological, fisheries and ecosystem science on a species, then evaluates this information against the program’s conservation ethic to arrive at a recommendation of ‘Best Choices’, ‘Good Alternatives’ or ‘Avoid’. A label of ‘best choices/green’ indicates the species is well managed and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways.