Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Patagonian toothfish - South East Atlantic
Marine Resource  Fact Sheet
Stock status report 2015
Patagonian toothfish - South East Atlantic
Fact Sheet Citation  
Patagonian Toothfish
Owned bySouth East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO) – More
Related observationsLocate in inventorydisplay tree map
FAO Names: en - Patagonian toothfish, fr - Légine australe, es - Austromerluza negra, ru - Клыкач патагонский
Geographic extent of Patagonian toothfish - South East Atlantic
Main Descriptors
Considered a single stock: No        Spatial Scale: Regional
Management unit: Yes        Reference year: 2014
Biological State and Trend
State & Trend Descriptors
Exploitation rateNo or low fishing mortality
Abundance levelPre-exploitation biomass or high abundance

Fishing for Patagonian toothfish in the SEAFO CA started around 2002. The main fishing countries working in the area include vessels from Japan, South Korea, Spain and South Africa. Historically a maximum of four vessels per year fished in the SEAFO CA. The Spanish longline system and the Trotline (Fig. 1) are the fishing gears commonly used.

Figure 1 Fishing gears used to fish D. eleginoides: Spanish longline system (top) and the Trotline (bottom).

Habitat and Biology
Climatic zone: Temperate; Polar.   Bottom type: Unspecified.   Depth zone: Abyssal ( >1000m).   Horizontal distribution: Oceanic.   Vertical distribution: Demersal/Benthic.  

Patagonian toothfish is a southern circumpolar, eurybathic species (70-1600m), associated with shelves of the sub-Antarctic islands usually north of 55ºS. Young stages are pelagic (North, 2002). The species occurs in the Kerguelen-Heard Ridge, islands of the Scotia Arc and the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula (Hureau, 1985; DeWitt et al., 1990). This species is also known from the southern coast of Chile northward to Peru and the coast of Argentina, especially in the Patagonian area (DeWitt, 1990), and also present in Discovery and Meteor seamounts in the SE Atlantic (Figure 3) and El Cano Ridge in the South Indian Ocean (López-Abellán and Gonzalez, 1999, López-Abellán, 2005).

In SEAFO CA the stock structure of the species is unknown. The CCAMLR Scientific Committee in 2009 noted that in most years (since 2003) the main species caught in CCAMLR sub-area 48.6 (adjacent to and directly south of SEAFO Division D) is D. eleginoides. The distribution of the species appears to be driven by the sub-Antarctic front which extends into the SEAFO CA.

Figure 3 Species geographical distribution in the SEAFO CA (source: Species profile on the SEAFO website).
Geographical Distribution
Jurisdictional distribution: Straddling between High Seas and EEZ

In SEAFO CA, the fishery from 2010 to 2013 took place in Sub-Area D, being concentrated over seamounts in Division D1, at Discovery seamount and also at seamounts located in the western part of Sub-Area D (Fig. 2).

Figure 2 Reported catch of Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) aggregated to 100km diameter hexagonal cells (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014).

Table 1 Number of sets by year and location.
YearWesternDiscoveryD1- Meteor

*No catch information provided for 56 sets

Table 1 shows that the main fishing ground is located on Discovery seamount and also in D1 but less hauls were deployed in the western seamounts of Sub-Area D.

Water Area Overview
Spatial Scale: Regional

Geo References
Resource Structure
Considered a single stock: No

Table 2 presents data on Patagonian toothfish catches and discards listed by country, as well as fishing gear used and the management area from which catches were taken. Annual catches varied between 18t (2002) and 413t (2007). Discards were mainly due to parasite infection of fish. In the last three years with complete data (2012, 2013 and 2014) retained catches were 122, 61 and 74 t respectively and the annual weight of discarded specimens was 3, 3 and 2 t in the three year period.

Table 2 Catches (tons) of Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) by South Africa, Spain, Japan and Korea.
NationSpainJapanKoreaSouth Africa
Fishing methodLonglinesLonglinesLonglinesLonglines
Management AreaD0D0D1D0D1D0D1
Catch details (t)Ret.Dis.Ret.Dis.Ret.Dis.Ret.Dis.Ret.Dis.Ret.Dis.Ret.Dis.
2003101 47   245       
20046 124           
2005N/FN/F158   10       
200611 155           
2007N/F 166           

N/F = No Fishing; Blank fields = No data available; *Provisional (Sep 2015); Ret.= Retained catch; Dis. = Discarded catch

Table 3 Catches (tons) of Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichusmawsoni) by South Africa, Spain, Japan and Korea.
Nation Spain Japan Korea South Africa
Fishing method Longlines Longlines Longlines Longlines
Management Area D0 D0 D1 D0 D1 D0 D1
Catch details (t) Ret. Disc. Ret. Disc. Ret. Disc. Ret. Disc. Ret. Disc. Ret. Disc. Ret. Disc.
2014 N/F N/F ˂ 1 0 0 0 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2015* N/F N/F 0 0 0 0 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F

N/F = No Fishing; Blank fields = No data available; *Provisional (Sep 2015); Ret. = Retained; Disc. = Discarded

Retained and discarded bycatch from the Patagonian toothfish fishery are presented in Table 4. The two most important species (in terms of weight) are grenadiers (GRV) and Blue antimora (ANT).

Table 4 Retained and discarded bycatch from the Patagonian toothfish fisheries (kg).
  2009 2010 2011
  Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis.
Species D0 D1 D0 D1 D0 D1 D0 D1 D0 D0
GRV     89 5833 4047 1936 93 2601   22414
ANT     126 4786     453 1348   4794
BYR 1221   573              
MCC     336 896            
BEA 360                  
MZZ               168    
SRX                   30
MRL     108         1   2
COX     2             21
SKH     90              
LEV     36       4      
KCX       1     3 35    
BUK             17      
NOX                   7
MWS                   6
SSK             2      
CKH             1 1    
KCF     1              
  2012 2013 2014
  Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis.
Species D0 D1 D0 D1 D0 D1 D0 D1 D0 D0
GRV 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 2012
ANT Ret. Dis. Ret. Ret. Dis. Ret. Ret. Dis. Ret. Ret.
BYR D0 D1 D0 D0 D1 D0 D0 D1 D0 D0
MCC     23705     23705     23705  
BYR     4442     4442     4442  
SKH     124     124     124  
LEV     37     37     37  
KCX     75     75     75  
MWS     31     31     31  
KCF     2     2     2  

ANT: Blue antimora (Antimora rostrata); BEA: Eaton's skate (Bathyraja eatonii); BYR: Kerguelen sandpaper skate (Bathyraja irrasa); COX: Conger eels, etc. nei (Congridae); CKH: Abyssal grenadier (Coryphaenoides armatus); BUK: Butterfly kingfish (Gasterochisma melampus); HYD: Ratfishes nei (Hydrolagus spp); LEV:Lepidion codlings nei (Lepidion spp); KCX: King crabs, stone crabs nei (Lithodidae); MCC: Ridge scaled rattail (Macrourus carinatus); GRV: Grenadiers nei (Macrourus spp); MWS: Smallhead moray cod (Muraenolepis microcephalus); MRL: Moray cods nei (Muraenolepis spp); NOX:Antarctic rockcods, noties nei (Nototheniidae); MZZ: Marine fishes nei (Osteichthyes); KCF: Globose king crab (Paralomis formosa); Blackbelly lantern shark (Etmopterus lucifer); SEC: Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina); SRX: Rays, stingrays, mantas nei (Rajiformes); SKH: Various sharks nei (Selachimorpha(Pleurotremata)); (Rajiformes); SSK: Kaup's arrowtooth eel (Synaphobranchus kaupii).

Ret.= Retained catch. Dis. = Discarded catch

There are no agreed stock assessments.

The number of fishing sets sampled from 2006 onwards indicates a good sampling level in line with the SEAFO preliminary guidelines for data collection (Table 5). On average 20 specimens were measured per sampled fishing set, which is considered acceptable given the length range of the exploited population. It will be necessary to apply in future this sampling effort of 20 individuals in all sampled fishing sets (Figure 4).

Table 5 Annual analysis of sampling effort conducted on board fishing vessel.
Year No. of Sets sampled Mean number of Individuals sampled per set Min. Individuals sampled per set Max. Individuals sampled per set Mean sample size/tonne
2006 146 22.16 1 31 -
2007 222 11.61 1 57 -
2008 120 23.69 2 110 -
2009 275 17.97 1 58 0.13
2010 125 26.91 1 60 0.32
2011 263 32.95 1 60 0.16
2012 298 20.58 1 57 0.17
2013 164 19.87 1 70 0.32
2014 176 25.50 3 50 0.35

Assessment Model
Length data and frequency distribution

Figure 5 shows the annual total length frequency distributions of Patagonian toothfish catches based on the observer data from all fleets submitted to SEAFO. Length frequency distributions for the period 2006-2013 suggest a shift towards smaller lengths in the catches in more recent years. The proportion of large fish appears to be declining.
Figure 5 Annual total length frequency distributions D. eleginoides raised to total catches per year for SEAFO CA Sub-Area D.
Length-weight relationships

Table 6 shows the length-weight relationships by sex based on observer data from Japanese fleet in 2013.
Samples a b r2 n
Males 1E-06 3.4484 0.9768 405
Females 2E-06 3.4296 0.9579 860

Reference Point

The harvest control rule (below) was adopted in 2014.

Where ‘Slope’ = average slope of the Biomass Indicator (CPUE) in the recent 5 years; and

λu :TAC control coefficient if slope > 0 (Stock seems to be growing) : λu=1
λd :TAC control coefficient if slope < 0 (Stock seems to be decreasing) : λd=2

The TAC generated by this HCR is constrained to ± 5% of the TAC in the preceding year.
Management unit: Yes

Management Advice

In 2014 the Commission adopted a TAC of 276t in Sub-Area D, and zero tonnes for the remainder of the SEAFO CA for 2014 and 2015 (CM 29/2014). SC (2015) suggests a TAC of 264 tons in Sub-Area D and zero tonnes for the remainder of the SEAFO CA for 2016.
Source of information
SEAFO “SC-SEAFO-2014. Report of the 10th Annual Meeting of the SEAFO Scientific Committee. SEAFO SC Report 2014.” 2014 Click to open
SEAFO “SC-SEAFO-2013. Report of the 9th Annual Meeting of the SEAFO Scientific Committee. SEAFO SC Report 2013.” 2013 Click to open
Arana, P. “Reproductive aspects of the Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) off southern Chile. Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res., 37(3): 381-394.” 2009.
Dewitt, H.H., P.C. Heemstra and O. Gon.  “Nototheniidae. In: Fishes of the Southern Ocean, O. Gon and P.C. Heemstra (Eds.). J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology, Grahamstown, South Africa: 279-331.” 1990.
Horn P. L.  “Age and growth of Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) and Antarctic toothfish (D. mawsoni) in waters from the New Zealand subantarctic to the Ross Sea, Antarctica Fisheries Research, 56:275-287.” 2002.
Hureau, J.C.  “Family Nothoteniidae-Antarctic rock cods. In: FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Southern Ocean: Fishing Areas 48, 58 and 88 (CCAMLR Convention Area). Fischer, W. And J.C. Hureau (Eds). FAO, Rome, vols. I-II, 470 p.” 1985.
López-Abellán L.J. and J. González “Results of the longline survey on the seamounts in the southeast Atlantic and in the CCAMLR Subarea 48.6 (Atlantic Ocean) and Division 58.4.4 (Indian Ocean). CCAMLR Science, Vol. 6: 99-116.” 1999 Click to open
López-Abellán, L.J. “Patagonian toothfish in international waters of the Southwest Indian Ocean (Statistical Area 51). CCAMLR Science, 12: 207–214.” 2005 Click to open
Prager, M.  “User’s Manual for ASPIC: A Stock-Production Model Incorporating Covariates (ver. 5) and auxiliary programs, Population Dynamics Team, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 101 Pivers Island Road, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516 USA: National Marine Fisheries Service Beaufort Laboratory Document BL-2004-01.” 2004.
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