McMurdo Sound's toothfish population at risk

18 March 2012

Source: Stuff.co.nz

Author: Michael Field

A summer at Antarctica's McMurdo Sound has come up with the alarming finding for scientists - the region's population of toothfish shows signs of collapsing.

Since commercial fishing of the top fish predator began in the late 1990s, the scientific catch in McMurdo Sound, home to US and New Zealand bases, has fallen 81 per cent in recent catch rates relative to the pre-commercial era.

University of Auckland biologist Clive Evans says 490 hours of fishing at previously productive places in the Sound over the summer "came up with a single little fish".

"This is telling us something."

Twenty nine boats are licensed to catch Antarctic toothfish (Dissoctichus mawsoni) in the Ross Sea, with half the allowable catch of about 3500 tonnes taken by New Zealand vessels earning around $18 million a year in exports.

Pirate fishing takes an unknown but possibly significant quantity.

For more, go to: http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/6595293/McMurdo-Sounds-toothfish-population-at-risk#share