Tuesday, April 29th 2003 - 21:00 UTC

Government of South Georgia Increase toothfish catch quota.

Eighteen vessels, an increase of three, have been licenced this season by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) to catch Toothfish in the waters surrounding the two Islands.

Similarly on the advice of CCAMLR, the maximum catch quota for the season has been increased from 5.820 to 7.810 tonnes. The increase has been permitted following an assessment of scientific evidence recorded over several seasons of fishing, by CCAMLR.

The Governor of the Falkland Islands is regularly appointed Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and the Islands are administered from Stanley.

The season opens on 1st May and will close on 31st August, although one ship, the 'Argos Helena', a United Kingdom flagged trawler, was permitted to begin operations two weeks in advance of the other vessels. This decision was taken by the SGSSI, after it was revealed that, last season, the ship complied totally with conservation measures instructed by CCAMLR. The 'Argos Helena' is currently carrying two observers on board, as opposed to the normal one, while severe restrictions on the number of sea-birds caught on the lines has been set to just three birds, otherwise all the catch has to be returned to the sea.

The complete allocations for the 2003 season are as follows:

Vessel

Flag

Quota (in tonnes)

Argos Georgia

UK (registered in St. Helena)

700

Argos Helena

UK (registered in St. Helena)

500

Ibsa Quinto

Spain

450

Isla Alegranza

Uruguay

350

Isla Camila

Chile

385

Isla Santa Clara

Chile

465

Isla Sofia

Chile

350

Ivan Kyushin

Russia

350

Jacqueline

UK (registered in the Falklands)

450

Koryo Maru 11

South Africa

350

Lyn

UK (registered in the Falklands)

350

Magallenes 111

Chile

300

Moresko 1

Korea

400

Polar Pesca 1

Chile

450

San Aoeta 11

New Zealand

350

Sinsei Maru 3

Japan

350

Tierra del Fuego

Chile

350

Viking Bay

Spain

400

The SGGSSI sub-charters the Falkland Islands Government to undertake policing of the fisheries zone for a total of 8 months of the year. Two ships, the 'Sigma' and 'Dorada', are used singularly to conduct the patrol duties. The Royal Air Force of Britain also assists in checking vessels during regular flights by its C130 Hercules from the Falklands to the island of South Georgia. Similarly the SGSSI also uses satellite surveillance to assist with its patrolling operations.

Each vessel is required to carry an official observer on board, in order to ensure that the daily catch rates are correctly reported to the Marine Officer at King Edward Point on South Georgia. Five day catch reports, showing how many tonnes were caught and where, are also required.

Before any Toothfish can be sold to a prospective buyer, the ship's owners must produce documentation, showing a full record of the vessels fishing activities during the season.

Both Islands are claimed by Argentina. South Georgia lies 800 miles south-east of the Falklands.

It is estimated that the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands receives around £4 millions ($US 6.5 millions) annually from the licencing regime.

Patrick Watts (MP) Stanley.

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