Download the complete Stock Status Report for Dissostichus eleginoides

Stock distribution and identity

 Patagonian toothfish is a southern circumpolar, eurybathic species (70-1600m), associated with shelves of the sub-Antarctic islands usually north of 55ºS. Young stages are pelagic (North, 2002). The species occurs in the Kerguelen-Heard Ridge, islands of the Scotia Arc and the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula (Hureau, 1985; DeWitt et al., 1990). This species is also known from the southern coast of Chile northward to Peru and the coast of Argentina, especially in the Patagonian area (DeWitt, 1990), and also present in Discovery and Meteor seamounts in the SE Atlantic (Figure 1) and El Cano Ridge in the South Indian Ocean (López-Abellán and Gonzalez, 1999, López-Abellán, 2005).

 In SEAFO CA the stock structure of the species is unknown. The CCAMLR Scientific Committee in 2009 noted that in most years (since 2003) the main species caught in CCAMLR sub-area 48.6 (adjacent to and directly south of SEAFO Division D) is D. eleginoides. The distribution of the species appears to be driven by the sub-Antarctic front which extends into the SEAFO CA. 

Figure 1: Species geographical distribution in the SEAFO CA 

Reported retained catches and discards

Table 1 presents data on Patagonian toothfish catches and discards listed by country, as well as fishing gear used and the management area from which catches were taken. Annual catches varied between 18t (2002) and 393t (2003). Discards were mainly due to parasite infection of fish. In the last three years with complete data (2011, 2012 and 2013) retained catches were 202, 122 and 60 t respectively and the annual weight of discarded specimens was 6, 3 and 3 t in the three year period.

Table 1:   Catches (tons) of Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) by South Africa, Spain, Japan and Korea.

Nation Spain Japan Korea South Africa
Fishing method Longlines Longlines Longlines Longlines
Management Area D0 D0 D1 D0 D1 D0 D1
Catch details (t) Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis.
2002 18

2003 101


2004 6

2005 N/F N/F 158


2006 11


2007 N/F


2008 N/F N/F 122 0 N/F N/F 79

2009 N/F N/F 86 0 74 0 16 0 46 0 N/F N/F N/F N/F
2010 26 0 N/F N/F 54 2 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2011 N/F N/F 159 6 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F 15 0 28 0
2012 N/F N/F 86 3 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F 24 0 12 0
2013 N/F N/F 41 2 19 1 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2014* N/F N/F 26**

Ret.= retained catch, Dis. = discarded catch.   N/F = No Fishing.       Blank fields = No data available.       *Provisional (Aug 2014).        **Based on 5-day reports. 

Spatial and temporal distribution of fishing

In SEAFO CA, the fishery from 2010 to 2013 took place in Sub-Area D, being concentrated over seamounts in Division D1, at Discovery seamount and also at seamounts located in the western part of Sub-Area D (Fig. 1-3).

Figure1: Reported catch of Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichuseleginoides) aggregated to 100km diameter hexagonal cells (2013).

Figure2: Reported catch of Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichuseleginoides) aggregated to 100km diameter hexagonal cells (2012).

Figure3: Reported catch of Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichuseleginoides) aggregated to 100km diameter hexagonal cells (2011).

Length data and frequency distribution

Figure 4 shows the annual total length frequency distributions of Patagonian toothfish catches based on the observer data from all fleets submitted to SEAFO. Length frequency distributions for the period 2006-2013 suggest a shift towards smaller lengths in the catches in more recent years. The proportion of large fish appears to be declining.

Figure 4:  Annual total length frequency distributions D. eleginoides raised to total catches per year for SEAFO CA Sub-Area D.