Chilean Sea Bass
What is the Chilean Sea Bass? Where is it found?
The Chilean Sea Bass, Patagonian/Antarctic Toothfish or deep-sea cod (Dissostichus eleginoides) is a zoological species of toothfish which belongs to the family Nototheniidae.
It is dark grey on its back and flanks, with the color clearing in the belly. It has a very long lifespan, reaching up to 50 years, and measuring 2.5 m. It lives in rocky areas with strong currents. It can reach depths of 2500 m.
It lives in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, southwest Atlantic and Southern Ocean, including the Patagonian coast, Falkland Islands, Macquarie Island, South Georgia, other sub-Antarctic islands.
When did the Chilean Sea Bass fishery start and how did it increase over the years?
Since the start of fishing activity in subantarctic waters in the early 1970s, toothfish had been a minor bycatch species in the trawl fisheries for marbled rock cod and grey rock cod, particularly around South Georgia and the Kerguelen Islands. It was only in 1985 that commercial quantities of toothfish were discovered at Kerguelen. There had, however, been a substantial fishery off the Chilean coast since the mid-1970s, so markets were already established for this species. Since then, the fishery for this species developed rapidly and expanded to other areas, including South Georgia, Marion and Prince Edward Islands, and Crozet Islands. In 1994 an Australian trawl fishery began at Macquarie Island, followed by Heard Island in 1997. Although started as a trawl fishery, most toothfish is now caught by longline, except for the Australian fishery and part of the French fishery at Kerguelen.
A longline fishery for Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) has been operating within the sub-area CCAMLR 88.1 from summer 1996 to 1997 when only one vessel fished there. Since that time this exploratory fishery has expanded, with a maximum of 21 vessels in 2003/04, 13 vessels in 2005/06, and 15 in 2006/07. The exploratory fishery has also spread in the sub-area 88.2 and a research trip took place in the sub-area 88.3 (Patchell, 2005).
Which nations are leading the Chilean Sea Bass fishery?
Argentina, France, Chile, Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea and Uruguay are the primary countries harvesting Chilean sea bass. They fish in the waters of Antarctica and in the national waters of nearby countries.
Which nations are the biggest consumers of Chilean Sea Bass?
The United States, Japan, and the European Union are the major markets.
What is the impact on the ecosystem?
The Patagonian toothfish is a big fish, over 200 kilograms and 2.3 meters long, that has a long life cycle (they live up to 50 years, reaching sexual maturity at 20 years) making it very vulnerable to overfishing .
Toothfish lives in deep waters and plays an important role in the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, both as and as prey. Extensive research is ongoing in some areas to check how many of them can be removed without disrupting the balance of nature safely. Some populations of toothfish are healthier and more abundant than others.
What side effects brings about fishing for toothfish?
Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing has increased in recent decades, obliterating some populations of toothfish. Furthermore, in certain cases unmodified bottom longlines are used, which hook and drown thousands of seabirds each year, including the albatross, which is endangered.
- Develop an awareness campaign on the toothfish fishery.
- Make a database with establishments that sell toothfish in the region.
- Organize seminars and conferences to alert about the status of toothfish.
- Request restaurants, shops and television channels to stop marketing the consumption of toothfish.