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Fishing in the Ross Sea



If you look on a map and see how far the Ross Sea is from civilization, it will become clear why this southernmost sea was the last to escape significant commercial fishing. That all changed in the summer of 1996/97.


By that stage many Southern Ocean Patagonian toothfish stocks had collapsed from commercial and illegal fishing, forcing fishers to look for new stocks. The fish's rich white flesh, referred to as "white gold" for the high profits fishers could make, was sold in world markets as "Chilean sea bass."


In 1996 a single fishing vessel from New Zealand entered the pristine waters of the Ross Sea and discovered large numbers of Antarctic toothfish, a close relative of Patagonian toothfish. As news of this untapped resource spread, an international fishery soon developed.


Fourteen years later, depending on the season, up to 20 long-line vessels from a dozen different nations could be found fishing in the Ross Sea for a total allowable catch of around 3,000 tonnes of toothfish. Ever since its beginnings, New Zealand has dominated this fishery taking almost half of the total allowable catch (TAC).






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