(South Georgia, Kerguelen Islands, Longline)
Longline-caught Chilean seabass from South Georgia and Kerguelen are "Good Alternatives" because though their management has been effective, this type of fishing method may stress vital habitats and bycatch species whose status is largely unknown.
The South Georgia toothfish fishery and Kerguelen toothfish fishery are certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) .
Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish are commonly sold and marketed as Chilean Seabass, despite being two separate species. Recommendations differ depending on the region where the Chilean seabass originates, so it's important to ask. Seafood Watch® recommendations cover approximately 78 percent of the reported global toothfish catch. Also look for the blue eco-label of the MSC for certified sustainable products.
Toothfish dwell in deeper waters and play an important role in the Southern Ocean ecosystem as both prey and predator. Extensive research is ongoing in some regions to assess how many can be safely removed without disturbing the balance of nature. Some toothfish populations are more healthy and abundant than others. The existence of toothfish fisheries is controversial for a variety of reasons. These include the lack of knowledge of some aspects of the species' life history, ecology, and population dynamics, as well as its vulnerability to overexploitation, particularly from its prior history with illegal fishing. But thanks to scrutiny of fishing activities, new data, and numerous enforcement measures in recent years, this activity has dramatically decreased. The U.S. prohibits the import of illegally- caught toothfish, and importers must hold a permit, as well as a pre-approval certificate for each U.S. bound shipment of toothfish. Some illegal fishing activity still occurs in the high seas (unregulated), and these products may be sold in markets outside the U.S. It's unclear how these illegal takes of toothfish may affect the well-managed fisheries.In South Georgia, toothfish abundance is high and illegal fishing hasn't been observed in recent years. Kerguelen Islands needs improvement to manage their population over the long-term. Enforcement measures include observers and monitoring systems stationed on every vessel, satellite surveillance, vessel inspections, and unique hooks for gear tracking in South Georgia. In the case for the Kerguelen Islands, patrols for illegal fishing activity are even shared by neighboring Australian authorities.
Most toothfish are caught by bottom longline, which is known to have some impact on seafloor habitats. To reduce impact, these fisheries have implemented measures: reduced fleet size, benthic studies, and restricted fishing areas. A significant portion of the EEZ in Kerguelen is off-limits to fishing.
Bycatch varies widely in toothfish fisheries that use bottom longline. These "Good Alternative" regions, however, capture incidental species, whose unknown population status is a concern, particularly skates, grenadiers, and petrels. Bird bycatch has been steadily decreasing in the Kerguelens due to a number of initiatives, including seabird avoidance gear.