Since the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was first agreed in May 1980, it has been incumbent upon Members to conserve Antarctic marine living resources, whilst also allowing rational use. This has so far been taken to mean sustainable fishing. Under this Convention, fishery management must therefore prevent any fishery-induced change to the marine ecosystem, or minimize the risk of any such change, that is not potentially reversible over two to three decades. Therefore, when making decisions about potential management actions, CCAMLR must take into account the state of available knowledge.
The commercial fishery for Antarctic krill is currently managed under a series of measures that are aimed at being precautionary. CCAMLR has initiated a programme of work that it is hoped will develop a feedback management approach, using decision rules to adjust selected activities (including for example, the distribution and level of krill catch) in response to the state of monitored indicators, while maintaining a precautionary approach and taking into account spatial and temporal ecosystem structure.
In undertaking such a programme of work, CCAMLR has recognised that there are many gaps in knowledge, but that monitored indicators might be used to: (i) provide advance warning about the potential risks of fishing and to advise on requirements for further precaution and/or focused future research and monitoring investments; (ii) adjust catch limits and the spatial distribution of catches; and (iii) characterise long-term changes in the ecosystem to facilitate strategic decision making.
AWR AND RESEARCH PROJECTS
The Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund (hereafter AWR) wishes to contribute to and support the work of CCAMLR so that the Antarctic krill fishery is managed in a sustainable manner consistent with the precautionary approach detailed in the Convention text. The aims of the AWR have therefore been developed to be consistent with the work of CCAMLR.
It is envisaged that any research and monitoring work supported by the AWR will build, incrementally, towards a new management approach for the krill fishery. Funded work should therefore support, rather than replace, the work of CCAMLR. In developing research proposals for consideration by the AWR, it is hoped that projects will be collaborative in nature, including between scientists from different CCAMLR Members, between scientists and krill fishing companies and between government and non-governmental scientists.
Each grant will be for a specific piece of work, and no long-term commitment to any individual or group should be assumed. The AWR is competitive and only proposals that are judged to provide excellent science and to fit the aims of the fund will be considered. Applicants should ensure that their proposals are cost effective, and cost-sharing is encouraged when possible. Where appropriate, the track record of project proponents will be taken into consideration. The inclusion of students or early career scientists is encouraged. All proposals should be presented on the official project application form.
In supporting the development of a feedback management approach for the krill fishery, the AWR wishes to fund work that will increase understanding about how the Antarctic marine ecosystem operates and how it might be characterised as a set of indicators for use by managers. Such work might involve desk or field studies to fill critical knowledge gaps or provide early warning signals about future ecological change.
For the current round of funding USD$150,000 is available. It is unlikely that all of this amount will be awarded to a single project, though this may be possible for a particularly compelling proposal. Successful proposals might generally expect to receive in the order of USD$25,000 to USD$100,000.
PREFERRED RESEARCH PROJECTS FOR 5TH CALL
Critical knowledge gaps that might be preferred in the 5th call for project proposals could include:
Research efforts to better understand krill biology and ecology that inform management of krill fishery. There are a number of outstanding questions relating to ecology of krill, including the depth range of krill population; characteristics of krill swarms and their behaviour; migration and the connectivity between the surface krill populations, and with deep-sea krill; and interaction between krill and krill-predators. This information will help improving krill fisherymanagement, especially deciding upon the best spatial and temporal scale for management.
Spatial management of krill fisheries by CCAMLR has, to date,largely considered the demands of diving predators, including penguins. Information about the level of krill consumption by flying seabirds and fish, and the potential competition with krill fisheries, have long been recognised as major data gaps by CCAMLR. Tracking and at-sea survey data indicate that in some areas of operation, krill fishing vessels overlap with the preferred foraging localities of flying seabirds. Even in situations of limited spatial overlap, there may still be a competitive and therefore functional overlap, as flying seabirds may rely on krill advected from areas where fisheries operate. Improved analyses of both spatial and functional overlap of flying seabirds with krill fisheries and areas of high densities would therefore be informative, particularly as fishing vessels access krill at much deeper depths than flying seabirds, and so may respond differently to krill dynamics.
Other novel or exciting projects, or relevant projects that take advantage of logistical assets of already funded projects, may be considered where they match closely with the aims of the AWR. Such projects should seek to inform risk assessment and the development of feedback management approaches.
Illustration Photo: Krill (credits: Beth Simmons / PAL LTER / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0))