When the CAMLR Convention came into force it established the Scientific Committee (SC-CAMLR) and all Members of the Commission are also Members of the Scientific Committee.
The Scientific Committee provides the best available scientific information on harvesting levels and other management issues to the Commission. In turn, the Commission is obligated by the Convention to take full account of the recommendations and advice of the Scientific Committee in making its decisions.
The Scientific Committee takes into account the outcomes of research from national programs of CCAMLR Members. In addition CCAMLR has established a number of programs to collect the data required for the effective management of the Southern Ocean, these include:
- fisheries monitoring
- scientific observers on fishing vessels
- ecosystem monitoring and marine debris programs.
The Scientific Committee meets annually immediately prior to the Commission meeting. In order to address the wide range of science areas that might impact on the decisions of the Commission, the Scientific Committee has established a number of working groups that meet during the year and assist in formulating scientific advice on key areas.
Currently there are four working groups and one specialist subgroup:
- Working Group on Ecosystem Monitoring and Management (WG-EMM)
- Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment (WG-FSA)
- Working Group on Statistics, Assessments and Modelling (WG-SAM)
- Working Group on Incidental Mortality Associated with Fishing (WG-IMAF)
- Working Group on Acoustic Survey and Analysis Methods (WG-ASAM)
WG-EMM, WG-FSA and WG-SAM and SG-ASAM usually meet annually, while WG-IMAF meets at the Scientific Committee's request. All groups report their findings directly to the Scientific Committee. In 2019 the Scientific Committee agreed that SG-ASAM should become a Working Group and the first meeting of WG-ASAM will be in 2020.
The Chair of the Scientific Committee is elected by Members and serves for a term of two meetings and may be re-elected for no more than one term. The current Chair is Dr Dirk Welsford (Australia).