Fishing in the Amundsen Sea region (SSRUs 882C–H) has been managed through a research plan since the 2015 fishing season. The aim of the research plan is to collect sufficient information to carry out a reliable stock assessment of the toothfish stock in that area. In this report, we assess if the research plan is thus far achieving its goals and if the current fishing level is deemed precautionary.
In the 2016 and 2017 seasons, a total of 19 tagged fish (excluding within season recaptures) were recaptured in the research blocks in the South Amundsen Sea region, confirming the utility of the research plan to recapture tagged fish, and providing key information on the size of the population in the South. Although only 4 tagged fish were recaptured (excluding within season recaptures) in the North (SSRU 882H) in 2017, the increase in tagging rate to 3 fish per tonne in the 2017 season has increased the number of tagged fish at liberty and therefore the number of recaptures of tagged fish is likely to increase in the 2018 season.
Catch rates, length frequency data, access to research blocks and Chapman biomass estimates for the North and South areas all indicate that the current catch limits in the Amundsen Sea region are precautionary and we recommend extending the current research plan for 2018 season.
No validated age data are currently available since 2014 for the North, and for 2014, 2015, and 2017 from the South to support the development of a stock assessment.