The Patagonian toothfish is mainly caught in pristine waters of the Southern Ocean and is a prized restaurant fish by countries across the world. Tracking where and to who it is being sold is important to help protect the toothfish species from depletion.
As a member country of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), Australia works with other member countries with the objective of ‘conserving Antarctic marine life’.
Earlier in August 2017 two Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) Fisheries Officers joined nine other member countries and INTERPOL for a ‘Catch Documentation Scheme’ (CDS) workshop in Singapore. Implemented in 2000, the CDS is a web-based system that tracks toothfish from the area it was caught to the point of landing then onwards throughout the trade cycle.
The CDS is required to be used for the landing and/or trade of all toothfish whether caught inside or outside the Convention Area. The importance of having it implemented in south east Asia lies in the ability to identify and prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) toothfish being landed in these south east Asian ports. Being able to track toothfish trade enables CCAMLR to identify where toothfish is being exported/re-exported and subsequently identify areas or markets that might be high risk with regard to the IUU trade of toothfish. The CDS is a significant tool not just in combatting illegal trade, but also the regulation and reporting component of IUU fishing. The implementation of CDS is required by contracting parties to CCAMLR, however non contracting parties may also adopt the system on a voluntary basis.
Through the CDS, CCAMLR has identified that several Asian nations trade in toothfish.
The workshop, that AFMA’s Senior Manager of Compliance Operations John Davis helped run, was extremely informative and valuable in the facilitation of ongoing efforts to encourage voluntary implementation of the CDS across the South East Asia region.
South East Asia is thought to be one of the last regions targeted by IUU operators for the IUU toothfish trade. By successfully having SE Asian states co-operate with CCAMLR through the implementation of the CDS, there will be increasingly few places that IUU operators are able land/trade toothfish and subsequently IUU operators freedom of movement is limited.