Exploratory fishing for toothfish (Dissostichus spp.) in Subarea 88.3 began with a survey by Chile in 1999. Since then there have been research surveys by New Zealand (2005), Russia (2011 and 2012) and Korea (2016 and 2017). However, there is still considerable uncertainty about the abundance of Antarctic toothfish in Subarea 88.3 and the Scientific Committee has requested members complete research in this area to address that uncertainty. There is also considerable uncertainty about the stock structure of Antarctic toothfish in this subarea – and their relationship to the rest of the Pacific Sector (Parker et al. 2014).
A 3-year research plan for this subarea was commenced by Korea in 2016 and new proposals to carry out research fishing in this subarea were submitted to WG-SAM-17 by New Zealand and Ukraine. WG-SAM-17 recommended that the proponents collaborate to produce a single multi-Member coordinated research proposal for presentation at WG-FSA-17 (WG-SAM-17, para 4.89). This joint research proposal is for an additional 3 years covering the period 2018, 2019 and 2020. It is designed to build on Korea’s previous research by continuing to focus on those research blocks where tagged fish have previously been released on the slope, whilst also prospecting two of the northern seamount complexes and two boxes on the southern shelf, where little or no fishing has occurred. The main objective of the proposal is to determine the abundance of Antarctic toothfish in Subarea 88.3. Secondary objectives are to improve understanding of stock structure of toothfish in this area, to carry out calibration trials between the two vessels, to collect data on the spatial and depth distributions of bycatch species, and to trial electronic monitoring using video cameras.