Exploratory fishing for toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) in East Antarctica (Divisions 58.4.1 and 58.4.2) began in 2003. Robust stock assessments and catch limits according to CCAMLR decision rules remain to be determined for these Divisions. WG-FSA-16/29 outlined the first multi-member toothfish exploratory fishery research plan up to 2017/18 for East Antarctica, which the Scientific Committee agreed was appropriate to achieve the research objectives (SC-CAMLR 2016, para. 3.244). Subsequent research progress including the evaluation of standard approaches to identify precautionary catch limits (WG-FSA-17 para. 4.28-4.38) and bycatch mitigation (Maschette et al. 2017), suggests a low risk profile for this fishery. Furthermore, examination of bycatch data and underwater video footage have not led to the identification of vulnerable marine ecosystem (VME) indicator species (Maschette et al. 2017, Eléaume et al. 2018). Here, we update the research plan for 2018/19 to 2021/22 (WG-FSA-18/59), in accordance with ANNEX 24-01/A, Format 2. This plan has been designed as a 4-year plan, based on the low risk profile of this fishery and to allow more time for review by Working Groups of major reporting and review years in non-stock-assessment years.
Compared to last year (WG-FSA-18/59), this research plan has been updated with 2019/20 operating details, the inclusion of modelling work under Objective 2, and a re-ordering of milestones under Objective 4.
Based on a recommendation by WG-SAM-19, inter-sessional discussions have been held between the existing co-proponent and the Russian Federation, but no agreement has been reached so far. Should the Russian Federation agree to become a co-proponent of this proposal, Russian research contributions could be integrated in an additional research objective as shown in the example below (marked as track changes in this document). One option would be to evaluate the impact of survey design on estimates of toothfish biomass and biological parameters.