The three papers in this volume of CCAMLR Science reflect three very different and important elements of the focus of CCAMLR on what are referred to in the Convention as dependent and related populations. Dependant species are those that have a food-web linkage with a target species, so understanding the diet and trophic ecology of species like Antarctic toothfish is fundamental to identifying those linkages. Other than the fishery, there is a virtual absence of other sampling approaches to collecting diet data from Antarctic toothfish, so the marriage of science and fishing is essential to achieving CCAMLR’s objectives.
Related species are those species that are potentially impacted by the action of a fishery, but may not be linked to the target species in a food-web. As knowledge of Antarctic fish taxonomy increases, including the ability to identify novel species such as Macrourus caml, it is important that CCAMLR can respond to these situations in order to contribute to the understanding of the potential impact of fisheries on those species as well as ensuring that the data collected from the fishery contributes to the developing knowledge base around those species.
In the case of killer whales interacting with longline fisheries, this might be viewed as having a food-web linkage, because the killer whales eat the fish as they come up on the line, although they might not be viewed as ‘dependent species’. However, these killer whales might also be described as a related species because those toothfish might only be (or at least are much more easily) available to them because of the actions of the fishery. The really interesting element of the paper by Gasco et al. is that the killer whales are able to preferentially select toothfish from the line, rejecting by-catch species such as macrourids.
It would be hard to write this Editorial without commenting on the fact that there are only three papers in this, the 22nd, volume of the journal. In those 22 years, CCAMLR Science has published 239 papers covering a huge range of issues that have influenced the way that CCAMLR seeks to manage fisheries and the impact of those fisheries on dependent and related species. The recent reduction in the number of papers published in the journal does not reflect a diminution of the scale, scope or importance of the delivery of that science into CCAMLR. Indeed the number of papers submitted to working groups increased year on year. However, it is clear that the overall ‘publishing landscape’ has changed markedly since 1994 when the first volume of CCAMLR Science was published and this has led CCAMLR to initiate a review of the future role and format of CCAMLR Science to ensure that it can remain a suitable vehicle to promote the science that underpins the work of CCAMLR.