The potential for data poor exploratory fisheries in the CAMLR Convention area to provide sufficient data to lead to formal stock assessments of Dissostichus spp. is evaluated and recommendations are made for optimizing this potential. The types of data that have led to successful assessments in the past are reviewed. Exploratory fisheries and research questions for subareas without currently assessed stocks (48.6, 58.4, parts of 88.1 and 88.2) are summarized. The multi-nation, multi-year exploratory fishery in the Ross Sea leading to an assessment of D. mawsoni and the fishery for D. eleginoides in the northern South Sandwich Islands are used as examples of what can be achieved using exploratory fisheries to provide information for stock assessment. Three sources of data potentially collectable from exploratory fisheries have proved successful in the past: 1) tag mark and recapture; 2) collection and reading of otoliths; and 3) recording of length, sex and gonad stage. It is suggested that research standards for data collected by vessels in exploratory fisheries be focused on providing these three types of data and that detailed descriptions of CPUE data be de-emphasized. Focusing effort on subareas/divisions in which tagged fish have already been released is recommended to maximize recapture potential for existing tags while increasing the numbers of newly tagged fish. The subareas/divisions should be prioritized according to the amount of information currently available, and the prospect of acquiring a sufficient amount of data with which to conduct a formal assessment.