Patagonian Toothfish


Latin name: Dissostichus eleginoides


Common name: Chilean Sea Bass

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Wild Caught

Region:
Sub-Antarctic

Key Facts

  • Patagonian toothfish are caught in two Australian sub-Antarctic fisheries. Stocks are assessed on an annual basis and appear healthy.
  • The fish are mainly caught using longlines, with a minor trawl component 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 of sea around the sub-Antarctic islands are protected in marine reserves where no fishing occurs in order to protect and conserve marine biodiversity.
  • The fisheries are subject to 100% observer monitoring.
  • Threatened species mortalities, particularly of seabirds, have been greatly reduced and are now minor as a result of efforts to improve bycatch by the fishing industry, managers and environmental organisations.

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.

More information

  • Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery (2,717t 2011-12)
  • Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery (332t 2012-13)

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 on an annual basis and appears robust 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 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 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.