The Association of Responsible Krill Fishing Companies (ARK) is using fishing vessels to monitor the status of the krill population around South Georgia.
When the seas around Antarctica freeze, the krill fishing fleet seeks the open waters around South Georgia to continue its operations. To protect the rich fauna in the region, this winter fishery is highly regulated, incorporating a precautionary quota, use of marine mammal exclusion devices, scientific observers and a 30km no-take protection zone around the island.
The British Antarctic Survey conducts annual at-sea surveys for krill, as well as studies on the foraging behaviour and breeding performance of land-based marine predators. Most of this research is conducted during the breeding season in the Austral summer, while the krill fishery is active only during the Austral winter.
To overcome the challenges of winter monitoring ARK has agreed to use fishing vessels with the first acoustic surveys conducted by FV Saga Sea (Aker Biomarine) in August and September 2020 to the northeast of South Georgia as part of a trial research programme.
Further details about the sampling protocol will be delineated and agreed in the coming months.