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The 1981 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources established a Commission which is known as CCAMLR. New Zealand is a founding Member. The Commission's responsibility is to manage and protect marine living resources south of the Antarctic convergence, ranging from latitude 45 degrees south in the Indian Ocean to 60 degrees south in the Pacific sector.
Harvesting in the Convention Area, including the Ross Sea, must comply with CCAMLR's conservation principles including:
New Zealand vessels have participated in CCAMLR exploratory fisheries for toothfish (Dissotichus spp.) since 1997.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs is responsible for Antarctica and for New Zealand’s participation in the Antarctic Treaty System of which CCAMLR is an integral part.
Under the Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR) Act (1981) the Minister of Fisheries is the Minister responsible for granting permits to take marine organisms in the Convention Area, and must have regard to the objectives and principles of the Convention.
The extent of New Zealand’s participation in CCAMLR fisheries is determined each year at the annual CAMLR Commission meeting. New Zealand can authorise fishing at the level the Commission agrees. To fish in the CCAMLR Area, New Zealand flagged vessels must obtain an AMLR permit from the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries.
All New Zealand participants in CCAMLR fisheries must also hold a high seas fishing permit issued under the Fisheries Act 1996.
Since 2000 CCAMLR has operated a toothfish Catch Documentation Scheme which is binding on all Contracting Parties.
It is an origin certification system designed to track landings and trade flows of toothfish caught in the CCAMLR Area (and where possible, in adjacent waters). Each catch or shipment of toothfish must have a valid catch document that shows compliance with CCAMLR Conservation Measures.
All landings, imports and exports of toothfish to or from New Zealand must be accompanied by a valid catch document.
Please contact the Ministry for Primary Industries [external link] with any enquiries about the catch documentation scheme.
As a CCAMLR Member, New Zealand has a responsibility to carry out surveillance against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the CCAMLR Area, and to monitor licensed vessels’ compliance with CCAMLR Conservation Measures.
IUU fishing is broadly defined as fishing activities carried out in contravention of CCAMLR’s conservation and management rules. It is a serious problem in the Southern Ocean. It damages fish stocks and the marine ecosystem and contributes to the death of many marine mammals and seabirds through destructive fishing techniques and the absence of by-catch mitigation measures.
In support of the CCAMLR System of Inspection New Zealand designates inspectors and carries out regular maritime patrols in the Southern Ocean, in particular in the Ross Sea under “Operation Mawsoni”. Since 2011/12 New Zealand’s maritime surveillance capability has been enhanced by two Offshore Patrol Vessels.