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Sustainability

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. We work hand in hand with certification bodies and a wide variety of partners in the scientific community to deliver the highest quality, responsibly-caught products while ensuring our fisheries’ long-term sustainability. Keep reading to discover more about how we are  working on creating a sustainable future for our delicate fishing grounds.

Furthering scientific studies

As part of our commitment to advancing our fisheries, we often partner with the wider scientific community to enable them to collect data at the front line. By inviting scientific partners onboard, we are helping them to collect valuable data and insights directly from the ecosystem they are studying.

Studies like our annual South Sandwich Island research and monitoring campaign are invaluable in understanding and protecting for the future the marine protected areas in which we operate.

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Bringing CCAMLR observers onboard

Any time that fishing is taking place, our vessels are required to carry onboard independent observers from CCAMLR (Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) to observe and report on our operations to make sure we are following all regulations and measures, introduced to ensure the long term sustainability of the fishery.

The observers report to the independent CCAMLR Commission and to our vessels’ flag states, as well as collecting vital data on toothfish, bycatch and bottom interactions to help the scientific community manage the fishery.

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Protecting birds from entanglement

Bird bycatch is a very real risk in our South Georgia fishery. To dramatically reduce bird mortality rates, we take an array of special measures – from using innovative bottom-set longlines to fishing these grounds during winter when birds aren’t breeding and are under less pressure to feed. We also defrost our bait and weight our lines to ensure they sink as quickly as possible, while special bird-scaring lines keep them away from the hooks.

These measures have been very successful – bird mortality has been reduced to very low levels, as Dr Ben Sullivan, Coordinator at BirdLife Global Seabird Programme recognises:

“This fishery operates among huge colonies of breeding albatrosses and petrels which are highly vulnerable to bycatch, so the reduction of seabird mortality to low levels has been a major achievement. It is a credit to the operators and managers of the fishery – and the incentive provided by MSC certification is critical to replicating this success.”

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Keeping to our quotas

We work to strict quotas to ensure the small fish stocks aren't over depleted. Our fisheries operate under a catch allocation, set annually and based on a biennial stock assessment. Access is restricted to licensed vessels from CCAMLR member states.

Our fisheries are based on bottom-set longlines targeting toothfish. It is our responsibility to ensure sufficient biological and other information is provided by our fishing vessels to underpin fishery management, while maintaining a precautionary TAC (Total Allowable Catch).

On top of these regulations, our South Georgia fishery applies an additional precautionary quota to further protect toothfish stocks in their waters. Both fisheries close annually when the catch (or bycatch) levels are reached.

Find out more about our quotas

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Taking steps to avoid bycatch

In such a sensitive fishery, accuracy is key. Limits on incidental bycatch – where you inadvertently catch the wrong species of fish – in both the South Georgia and Ross Sea Fisheries are tightly monitored and controlled by both CCAMLR and the South Georgia Government.

Thankfully, bottom longlining is a very targeted method of fishing. Paired with our years of expertise, this approach results in minimal – if any – bycatch.

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Minimising our impact on the seabed

While much is known about the effect of longlining on the fish and bird populations of South Georgia and the Ross Sea – historically little has been done to fully measure the impact on bottom (benthic) communities of flora and fauna.

Over the last 20 years, both fisheries have implemented strict rules to protect the seabed. From a complete ban on bottom trawling and minimum fishing depths (700m in South Georgia and 550m in the Ross Sea) to areas of rare benthic communities closed to fishing completely (92% of the South Georgia Exclusive Economic Zone is now closed to bottom fishing) – we’ve come a long way. 

But we’re not stopping there. At Argos Froyanes, we’re conducting extensive research to fully understand the effect our fishing gear has on the seabed and how we can further minimise our impact on the wider ecosystem for years to come. 

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