Last updated on 11 July 2017
Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
Ask fishery managers to follow scientific advice and to further explore the need to share information and coordinate stock assessments with Chile.
- Work with scientists to advance knowledge on the interactions of the fishery with the habitat and ecosystem and to further explore the need to share information and coordinate stock assessments with Chile.
- Encourage authorities to publish fishing mortality rates.
- Ask managers for increased monitoring of implementation of and compliance with recently tested mitigation measures for seabirds and sharks.
- Engage fishery managers to develop and implement a fishery management plan that includes biologically-based reference points and a clear harvest control rules. The plan should consider the transboundary coverage of the stock and the multi species nature of the fishery.
Last updated on 24 July 2018
In Argentina, the National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP) is in charge of assessing fish stocks. The assessment for hoki is carried out annualy, using an AD Model Builder age structured analysis since 2012. This model was peer reviewed by external scientists, in 2014 and 2016 (GIUSSI et al. 2016), and improvements were applied in 2016, following peer reviewers recommendations: i) estimation of the virginal reproductive biomass; ii) use of a stock –recruitment relationship and iii) use of the variability of the reproductive biomass, as an index to set biological reference points. These led to drastic changes in the assessment model and reference points; resulting in a completely different understanding of stock status.
Input data integrates abundance estimates from research surveys from 1992-2009 and an abundance index developed with catch per unit effort (CPUE) data from 2003-2016 (due to lack of research cruises), on-board observer data in commercial vessels, total commercial catches (national and foreign vessels data; for Argentinean catches, estimates include corrections due to misreporting and discarding). As well, input data included catch-at-age data updated with recently estimated age structure and catches’ length frequency and updated weight at age data, proportion of mature fish at age (GIUSSI et al. 2017).
Uncertainties refer to stock structure, recruitment estimates in recent years and CPUE. An increase in CPUE was observed in recent years, probably related to an increase in effort in more reduced areas (GIUSSI et al. 2016). Studies suggested a high mixture between Pacific and Atlantic populations (Schuchert et al., 2010; Niklitschek et al., 2013), therefore, cooperative assessments between both countries may be needed to cover the entire stock distribution area.
Stock assessment reports are only available upon request through the INIDEP website.
Last updated on 24 July 2018
In the last years, only limit biomass reference points have been used, and varied from 600,000 to 450,000 tonnes, used until 2015 (GIUSSI et al. 2015). In 2016, dynamic biological limit and target reference points based on spawning stock virginal biomass (B0) were adopted: limit reference point at 25%B0 and target reference point at 40%B0 (GIUSSI et al. 2016).
In last stock assessment, B0 was estimated at 507,940 tonnes, thus Btarget = 203,176 tonnes and Blimit = 126,985 tonnes (GIUSSI et al. 2017).
To estimate the Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) levels, the population’s evolution is simulated under different assumptions regarding future recruitment and exploitation levels, and the risk of overfishing is measured for each scenario. In 2017, recruiment scenarios used were R1 = long-term average from 1985 to 2014 (2015 and 2016 estimates were not used given the high uncertainty); R2 = same time series, but excluding estimates higher than that average, and R3 = last ten years estimates. Fishing mortality (F) reference levels were: F from last stock assessment (F2016), F associated to the biomass reference point (Ftarget =F40% B0) and F from applying the harvest control rule (FHCR) (GIUSSI et al. 2017a,b). BAC values ranged from 60,000 to 100,000 tonnes. Final recommendation for 2018 was to maintain catch limit at 80,000 tonnes, set catch value for 2017 and an intermediate value of ABC range estimates (GIUSSI et al. 2017).
INIDEP scientists noted that the suspension of the research assessment surveys (2010 onwards) in the area extending from 45° to 55° SL, produced a significant increase in the uncertainty and this triggered an update and re-analysis of the CPUE as an abundance index (Morsan et al. 2016).
Last updated on 24 July 2018
The stock has experienced cyclic increments and declines over the time series, total biomass has been stable since 1985 at ~700,000 tonnes up to the early 1990s (spawning stock biomass - SSB at ~400,000 tonnes) , when the stock peaked at ~1,300,000 tonnes until mid-2000s (SSB at ~600,000 tonnes), due to several sequential high recruitment events between 1991 and 2001. Current recruitment seems higher than in the period prior to this high recruitment phase, but with higher variability. This variability may be more related to abiotic factors than to intrinsic population conditions. A very similar trend in biomass between the Pacific and Atlantic populations, mainly since 2000. The significant decrease in both populations' biomasses from mid 2000's may be related with the absence of high recruitment events observed in the mid-1990's. A gradual increase is observed since 2013 (GIUSSI et al. 2016)(GIUSSI et al. 2017).
Catches attained relative maximum values (145,000 tonnes) when foreign fleets started to explore this resource under international agreements in mid-1980s. Between 1990 and 1997 catches decreased to ~40,000 tonnes, due to the end of these agreements. From 1998, reported catches increased again reaching high levels in 2000 and 2006 (historical peak was 168,000 tonnes) with TACs’ increase. In the last decade, catches had decreased to half the average of the 1998-2010 period, mirroring biomass trends. Since 2012, total catch levels have been well below catch limits, and are close to the lower limits of biologically acceptable catch ranges (GIUSSI et al. 2016)(GIUSSI et al. 2017).
In 2016, there was a significant change in stock status compared with previous stock assessments, due to changes in the assessment model updated population parameters and reference points (GIUSSI et al. 2016). The same assessment model was used in 2017, updating input data only. 2016 SSB was 54% of the spawning stock virginal biomass (SSB0), which indicates the stock is above the target reference point (40%SSB0) and shows an increase from the 2015 estimate. Fishing mortality estimates relative to the Ftarget (F40%SSB0), have been around the target or below for most of the time-series, except for the year 1998, when a high fishing pressure was exerted (GIUSSI et al. 2017).
Still, it is noticeable that the target reference point (Btarget = 40%SSB0) is set at the lowest historical value, below which reproductive capacity is unknown, thus this value seems more adequate to a precautionary limit reference level. This can be clearly observed in the stock-recruitment graph in last stock assessment report (GIUSSI et al. 2017).
Last updated on 24 July 2018
A system of Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) was established in 2010, and the Total Allowable Catch (TAC; Captura Maxima Permissible, CMP) for hoki is set annually by the Fisheries Federal Council (Consejo Federal Pesquero, CFP), based on acceptable biological catch recommendations. In 2012, CFP established a Fishery Management Plan that includes specific objectives and management measures (CFP Resolution N° 22/2012), among these are: i) a spatial closure for industrialtrawlers (Surimi processing); ii) minimum mesh size of 120 mm; iii) minimum landing size of 60cm; iv) when >50% of the catch proportion is of juveniles, the fishing operation should be moved a minimum of 5 nautical miles; v) the presence of an onboard scientific observer from INIDEP to monitor bycatch of seabirds, and an inspector. Also, an Advisor Commission was created to monitor fishing activites (CFP Resolution N° 5/2010).
Between 2000 and 2003, TACs were set at scientifically advised levels but since then TACs have generally overpassed scientific recommendations (with exception of 2008 and 2013). TAC has been set at 130,000 tonnes from 2014 to 2016, overpassing the advice (CFP, 2014c), for 2017 it was significantly reduced to 80,000 tonnes (CFP 2016). However, this volume was 30% higher than the advised catch level to maintain the stock biomass at the new target level (GIUSSI et al. 2016). For 2018, TAC remained at 80,000 tonnes, which is in line with INIDEP advice (CFP 2017).
A harvest control rule (HCR) has been recently proposed and accepted (GIUSSI et al. 2017)(CFP 2017), which anticipates reducing fishing effort if the biomass drops below target and limit levels. A condition has been set to the MSC certified client group, which requires evidence that this HCR is likely to be robust to the main uncertainties and to the uncertainties related to the stock structure (Morsan et al. 2018).
Last updated on 24 July 2018
Four fleets target hoki in Argentinean waters: ice chilled vessels, hake freezer vessels, factory freezer vessels and surimi freezer vessels. Catches have been consistently below set TACs, in 2016 TAC was set at 130,000 tonnes while catches were at 56,600 tonnes. Underreporting and discarding are regularly estimated, and up-to-date estimates are used to correct nominal catches (GIUSSI et al. 2015)(GIUSSI et al. 2016)(GIUSSI et al. 2017). Since 2004, fishing vessels are equipped with VMS and must take an on-board observer; dock side monitoring is also performed in 100% of landings (CFP, 2012; Prenski et al., 2015).
No non-compliance issues have been raised in the re-certification report (Morsan et al. 2018).
Last updated on 8 August 2018
A National Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Mammals has been approved in Argentina in late 2015 (PAN-Mamíferos). Hoki fishery interacts with marine mammals (Morsan et al. 2018).
The Argentine hoki bottom and mid-water trawl fishery in Argentine Sea interacts with chondrichthyes and seabirds that are classified as ETP species by national legislation (CFP Resolutions N° 6/2009 and N° 15/2010) and binding international agreements.
Argentina published in 2010 the National Action Plan for the Reduction of Bird-fishery Interactions (PAN-Aves) and is signatory of international agreements to protect seabirds. Black browed albatross Thalassarche melanophrys is the main species interacting with trawlers. It was considered as Near Threatened until 2017 (IUCN red List; BI, 2014a) but was recently assessed as Least Concern (IUCN 2017) as population is increasing. Other ETP seabirds such as the Atlantic petrel Pterodroma incerta (Endangered in IUCN Red List; BI, 2015a), the Southern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora (Vulnerable in IUCN Red List; D2, assessed in 2016) and white-chinned petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis (Vulnerable in IUCN Red List; BI, 2015b) also interact with fishing gears (Prenski et al., 2012). A pilot project to assess the effectiveness of a streamer line in the surimi freezer trawler fleet was conducted. A mortality rate of 0.25 birds per tow was estimated, including: Black-browed Albatross, Southern Royal Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel and Northern Giant Petrel ((Macronectes halli). Impacts were significantly reduced when using the streamer line as a mitigation measure (Tamini et al. 2016).
Mandatory use of two streamer lines in all freezer vessels with bottom trawl net has recently entered into force (CFP 2017). A condition was set to the certified component of the fishery to provide evidence of the effectiveness and appropriate implementation to minimize mortality of ETP seabirds (Morsan et al. 2018).
A National Action Plan for the Reduction of Chondrichthyans-fishery Interactions (PAN-Tiburones) was published in 2009, and has been updated in 2015 (PAN-Tiburones Revision 2015). Among chondrichthyans, Porbeagle (Lamna nasus) is the only ETP species with significant catches (Cortés and Waessle, 2017; Morsan et al., 2018), which is categorized by IUCN as “vulnerable” at the global level. Another three chondrichthyans categorized by IUCN as vulnerable are caught int this fishery: whitedotted skate (Rhinoraja albomaculata), yellownose skate (Zearaja chilensis) and spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias). There is a 50% bycatch limit of chondrichthyans per fishing trip, yet, no information on current bycatch levels is available.
Generic measures are in place for the purpose of sharks bycatch mitigation: i) it is forbidden to target chondrichthyan species, ii) shark finning and use of hooks in discarding process are also is forbidden, iii) it is mandatory to return live individuals that exceed the size of 160 cm and all individual dead by fishing process shall be recorded, iv) it is established a 50% as total landing catch of skates, sharks and Callorhynchus callorhynchus per fishing trip, or a 30% as maximum limit of landing for sharks and skates per fishing trip, and in case detecting that fishing haul exceeds the limits mentioned above, the vessel shall change the fishing operation area (CFP Resolutions N° 13/2003, N° 13/2009, N° 4/2013 and N° 7/2013). (Puliafito and Massa 2016) reviewed an alternative measure that maximizes post-capture survival of great sharks in the demersal austral fishery, but this is not mandatory yet.
According to Morsan et al. (2018), identification and quantification of ETP species are systematically carried out by INIDEP onboard observers program and the secretariat of fisheries (SSPyA) authorities in the landing process, however report on ETP species interactions and bycatch is not publicly available.
Last updated on 8 August 2018
Hoki is mostly captured in the southern demersal fishery (85% bottom trawl). This fishery is mainly carried out in the Patagonian area located south of 48°, has multispecies characteristics including as main target species Patagonian grenadier or hoki (Macruronus magellanicus) encompassing 50-70% of catches and Southern blue whiting (Micromesistius australis) with 15-35% of catches. Secondary species are Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) with 6-11% of catches in recent years, Patagonian cod (Salilota australis) with 5-6% of catches and southern hake (Merluccius australis) with 2-5% (GORINI and GIUSSI 2018). However, percentages vary among the different fleets fishing hoki. In 2016, factory vessels caught mainly hoki (70%), and several secondary species: 9%), hake (Merluccius hubbsi), southern hake (Merluccius australis, 7%) and Tadpole codling or Patagonian cod (Salilota australis, 5.5%) (SSPyA 2017). Ice-chilled and freezer vessels can target hake or hoki and the main incidentally species captured is squid (Illex argentinus) (Prenski et al., 2014). These catches are considered in squid assessments by INIDEP, however on board observers monitoring should increase (Buono and Ivanovic 2015).
Most of these species are managed under the quota system, therefore are closely followed by INIDEP (e.g. CFP Resolutions Nº 4/2016, Nº 17/2016, Nº 18/2016). Southern blue whiting (locally known as polaca) is around its limit reference point; biomass is increasing since 2011 after management measures were established to allow recovery of the stock (GIUSSI and ZAVATTERI 2017). Patagonian toothfish (locally known as merluza negra) is above its limit reference point but below the recently proposed target reference point (DI MARCO et al. 2017); TAC has been set at 3,700 tonnes since 2015 (CFP 2015)(CFP 2016)(CFP 2017)(CFP 2018), slightly above the recently recommended level to achieve the target reference point (30% of the spawning stock biomass in 1980, at the beginning of the evaluation of the stock). However, catches have been above 5,000 tonnes in the last years (GORINI and GIUSSI 2018).
For southern hake (locally known as merluza austral), TACs have set at 5,000 tonnes since 2014 based on a 2014 stock assessment (CFP 2014)(CFP 2015)(CFP 2016)(CFP 2017)(CFP 2018). The Argentine hoki fishery went through a MSC re-certification process recently, in which a condition was issued to update the knowledge of the stock status of this species (Morsan et al. 2018). A stock assessment was recently conducted and reference points were proposed (GIUSSI and ZAVATTERI 2018); indicating the stock is around the proposed target reference point set at 50% of the spawning stock biomass in 1986, at the beginning of the evaluation of the stock. However, this assessment estimated a catch limit of 3,500 tonnes in order to maintain the stock at the target reference point (GIUSSI and ZAVATTERI 2018).
Patagonian cod (locally known as bacalao austral) last TAC was established in 2005 at 5,000 tonnes, however, this TAC was not supported by a scientific recommendation and was never renewed or updated. There is no stock assessment conducted and no management measures set for this species. Landings have ranged from 6 to 12 thousand tonnes from 2005 to 2014, dropped below 6 thousand tonnes since 2015 and dropped again below 3 thousand tonnes in 2017 (GORINI and GIUSSI 2018).
Information on non retained bycatch species is limited.
Last updated on 8 August 2018
Several studies have been undertaken to describe the benthic habitats where the hoki fishery is conducted and to assess the specific impacts. Invertebrate groups were mapped from samples collected before the hoki fishery reached its maximum development. Many identified groups are considered as indicator taxa of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VME), e.g. porifera, bryozoans, hydroids, echinoderms, and their distribution pattern match with areas of main hoki reported catches by Argentine and foreign fleets operating in the AEEZ (Prenski et al., 2014).
In 2014, INDEP began to explore the state of the seafloor where the hoki fishery takes place. An initial study conducted by the hoki commercial fleet with onboard observers indicated that the amount of biomass of benthos bycatch arriving on board is very low (Marí & Giussi, 2014). Updated data indicate changes in fleets’ behavior, with increased and more spatially concentrated bottom trawling in comparison to previous years. Two main areas of high bottom trawling intensity were detected, one south of Island of Tierra del Fuego characterized by scallop Zygochlamys patagonica. The other areas is located northeast of Staten Island and is dominated by a mixture of predators such as echinoderms and the snail Fusitriton magellanicus and filters like sponges and scallop. The highest richness areas were identified in Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands) and around Tierra del Fuego (Morsan et al. 2018).
VMS monitoring system allowed estimation of the timing, location, and severity of the impacts of the trawl fisheries in the Argentine continental platform (Alemany et al. 2016), and they determined that the spatial distribution of trawling activity is patchy and trawling hotspots were small, comprising annually <5% of the shelf extension or <7% of the total trawlable area. These findings suggest that the magnitude of habitat effects as result of bottom trawling is relatively small. Even if coincident with high richness areas, the fishing area is low, thus, the probability that the fishery would reduce structure and function of habitats now or in the future is low. Still, concerns on cumulative impacts from bottom trawling in those small hotspots have been raised (Gaitán and Mari 2016); and the need to assess with greater detail the composition of the benthic community in the sector has been pointed (Morsan et al. 2018).
Mid-water trawl net rarely encounters the sea bottom as it can be damaged by it, incurring in significant costs to fishers (Morsan et al. 2018).
The strategy to protect priority habitats from fishery impacts is via areas closed for trawl fishing, such as: (1) area for the protection of hake juveniles (CFP Act N° 265/2000); (2) area for the protection of Patagonian toothfish juveniles (CFP Act N° 17/2002); (3) area closed for all trawling fisheries (Argentinean Federal Law Nº 23.968); and (4) the first marine protected area (MPA) Namuncurá – Banco Burdwood (Law Nº 26.875) created in 2013 (MEyFP 2013). Following, the National System of Marine Protected Areas was established in 2014 as a tool for creation and coordination of new necessary MPAs (MAyDS 2016).
A condition was set for the initial certification of the hoki fishery due to the need to gather information on habitat impacts and status (Condition 6, Prenski et al., 2012). This condition was considered ‘closed’ in the 4th surveillance report as monitoring of benthic bycatch species by bottom trawlers was continuing to be analyzed (Morsan et al. 2016). However, no condition or recommendation on this topic was set in the re-certification (Morsan et al. 2018).
Last updated on 8 August 2018
Fishery ecosystems have been identified in the Argentine Sea. Since the promulgation of the first MPA in Argentina, in 2013, and establishment of the National System of Marine Protected Areas in 2014, information on ecosystems at finer scale has been published (MAyDS 2016). Main areas with ecological importance include the austral slope, the Burdwood Bank and its slope, where the hoki fishery operates. The key element of the ecosystem is the presence of the Malvinas Current (cold and rich in nutrients) (Morsan et al. 2018). It flows along the slope generating oceanographic structures, such as fronts, which are discontinuities in the marine environment influencing the ecology of marine organisms. This system brings several services like nutrient recycling from the bottom, carbon dioxide absortion (specially associated to fronts) and antropogenic use (transport and fisheries). Frontal systems are characterized by high primary and secondary production that is transferred to higher trophic levels within the regional food web (Alemany et al. 2014). The trophic web of fish community between 45° and 54° S is strongly supported by zooplankton. A Magellanic corridor is being proposed as one of the 3 corridors to integrate key ecological areas in the Argentine EEZ (MAyDS 2016).