Division 58.4.4b has been a closed area since 2002 (CM 32-02) and scientific research has been conducted with a research plan submitted under CM 24-01 since 2008 by Japan. France joined this research plan in 2015 and a joint proposal was submitted for the first time in 2016 (WG-SAM-16/06 and WG-FSA-16/33 Rev. 1) for a period of 5 years.
The proposal submitted here has been substantially revised to address the concerns expressed at WG-FSA 2019 and SC-CAMLR-XXXVII (para. 3.158). We followed and improved the revised research plan presented in SC-CAMLR-XXXVII Annex 12 and redefined slightly the research objectives. The survey design has been amended to avoid sea pen hotspots in the eastern part of 58.4.4b_2 (WG-FSA-18/23) and a new French vessel has joined the research plan to increase research survey capacity.
Toothfish population structure and bycatch analyses will be presented at WG-FSA-19, while the main concerns regarding objective 2 (“Provide an assessment of the status and productivity of Patagonian toothfish stock”) and 5 (“Contribute to scientific research programs on killer whales (O. orca) ecology and depredation”) are addressed in two documents submitted at WG-SAM-19.
We updated milestone tables of objective 1 and 2 and related descriptions to address WG-SAM-2019 comments (para 6.76-79 in the WG-SAM-2019 report).
We made significant progress on the stock assessment and clarified objectives and milestones to facilitate the reviewing process of this research plan. A list of dates by which specific milestones will be completed and reported to CCAMLR working groups was provided and a final report will be provided at WG-FSA in 2021.