The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is meeting in Hobart to discuss each of the Southern Ocean fisheries and set the coming year's allowances. The organization monitors stock levels and conservation measures and is responsible for allocating an annual total allowable catch (TAC) for each fishery.
Among the delegates at the 23rd meeting of the Commission this week will be Harriet Hall, Deputy Commissioner and Director of Fisheries for South Georgia, who left the Islands on Saturday en route for the conference.
Richard McKee, Assistant Operations Manager for the South Georgia Government, said it was too early to predict how this year's allowances would be set: "There will be scientific committees looking at all the different fisheries within the CCAMLR areas and through discussions they will be looking at new conservation measures and will then be giving total allowable catches for the different fisheries for the coming year. At this stage it's difficult to say what these could be because the scientific committees will be discussing each one in turn before they are set."
He added that most vessels had hit their TACs during the past season: "Catch rates varied slightly from one vessel to another -some performed very quickly and others were fishing pretty much up until the end of this season. There might have been one or two that were only very close at the end of the season but they mostly hit their TACs."
The South Georgia Government administers icefish, toothfish and krill fisheries, and is also open to applications for an experimental crab fishery, which has so far drawn little interest.
Mr McKee said that, in terms of new conservation measures, he expected to see "nothing too dramatic" introduced at this year's meeting. He added that Ms Hall would be working closely with the UK team at the meeting to promote the South Georgia fishery, which received Marine Stewardship Council certification for sustainable fisheries last year.
After the CCAMLR conference Ms Hall will be staying in Hobart for the first meeting of the signatories to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels, which came into force earlier this year.
A two-day scientific meeting will start on 8th November, followed by three days of discussions between the six signatories to the agreement.
Conservation Strategy Officer for the Falkland Islands, Andy Douse, will also attend the meeting.
He said: "The main things that are going to be discussed are issues to do with how the agreement is going to be implemented, how it's going to be financed, where the Secretariat is going to be and issues like the budget. There's an interesting item on criteria for emergency conservation measures and what constitutes an emergency. The meeting will also agree the make-up and constitution of an advisory committee which will take on much of the work." By Sue Gyford (MP) Stanley
By Sue Gyford (MP) Stanley