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- Patagonian toothfish is a large-bodied predatory fish found throughout subantarctic ocean basins of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans at depths between 150->1000m.
- Australian-managed Patagonian toothfish fisheries operate in the Heard and McDonald Islands in the southern Indian Ocean, and around Macquarie Island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Patagonian toothfish populations are healthy in both fisheries.
- The fish are mainly caught using longlines, with a minor trawl and trap component sometimes active in one of the fisheries. Bottom trawling in particular can have significant impacts on the seabed. Although there is currently limited information on the nature of marine habitat affected by bottom trawling, research efforts are currently directed towards habitat mapping.
- Areas around the sub-Antarctic islands are highly protected in marine parks where no fishing occurs in order to protect and conserve marine biodiversity. Recent expansion of these areas in the Macquarie Islands is beneficial and welcome.
- The fishery catches a low number of threatened species such as albatrosses, elephant seals and porbeagle sharks, though industry and conservation monitoring and management arrangements are in keeping with best practice and there are not serious risks posed to any vulnerable species at recent bycatch levels.
Note: Patagonian toothfish is caught in other international fisheries, which have not been assessed here. Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activity for this species has been a considerable issue in the past, and is still occurring in some sub-Antarctic regions.
Patagonian toothfish has long been recognised as a luxurious fish with great flavour and texture. It is a rich and meaty fish with firm, white flesh. It is very versatile, suited to many different cooking techniques. Its high oil content means that Patagonian toothfish will remain moist even when cooked using high heat and dry cooking methods – try it barbecued or roast in a hot oven. It can also be steamed or poached, which will yield an incredibly moist result. Or, skip the cooking altogether if you wish, as this fish can also be served raw!
- Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery (3,019t in 2020/21)
- Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (458t in 2020/21)
Patagonian toothfish is a large-bodied demersal predatory fish found throughout subantarctic ocean basins of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans at depths between 150 – >1000m.
Patagonian toothfish is targeted in two Australian sub-Antarctic fisheries operating around the Heard and McDonald Islands, which are 4,000kms south-west of Perth, and Macquarie Island, which is 1,500kms south of Tasmania.
Stock status is assessed regularly and toothfish populations are healthy in both fishing areas. The amount of fish allowed to be caught (the catch ‘quota’) is considered ‘precautionary’ by fisheries managers, and reflective of the biology of Patagonian toothfish – it is a long-lived species and therefore sensitive to fishing pressure, and also plays an important role in the ecosystem as both prey and predator.
Patagonian toothfish are predominantly caught using longlines, with a minor component caught using mid-water and bottom trawls and traps in the Heard and McDonald Island fishery. Fishing occurs within a unique and sensitive marine ecosystem; areas have been set aside as marine reserves where fishing cannot take place in order to protect and conserve marine biodiversity in these regions. Research efforts are currently directed at identification and mapping of the habitat where fishing occurs, although at present, there is limited information on the nature of habitat affected by fishing.
The fisheries are subject to 100% independent observer coverage, and are some of the few fisheries in Australia in which this best practice occurs.
Threatened seabird bycatch and mortalities has previously been significant in this fishery. However, concerted efforts from the fishing industry, in collaboration with fisheries managers and environmental organisations have reduced the impacts on seabirds to minimal levels. The catch of other vulnerable species, including deep-sea sharks and rays, is limited by setting a quota of the amount allowed to be caught.