Southern Ocean

Southern Ocean

Australia's sub-Antarctic

Our vessels operate in two fishing zones of Australia’s sub-Antarctic territories. These are Heard Island, south-west of Western Australia, and Macquarie Island, south-east of Tasmania.

Heard Island is home to Australia’s only active volcano, the Big Ben, which is permanently covered in snow and cloud and dominates the island’s topography. Here, Austral Fisheries is also entitled to catch Mackerel icefish as well as Patagonian toothfish and have been working in this fishery since 1996. We have been involved in the Macquarie Island toothfish fishery since 1994.

Both the toothfish and icefish from the Heard Island and Macquarie Island fisheries are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, as well as the toothfish being rated ‘Best Choice’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

Patagonian Toothfish

The Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) is unique to the sub-Antarctic, and today, over 50% of the global catch of this species is certified as sustainable and well managed by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Toothfish are caught down to depths of 2500m. They have evolved to control their buoyancy through the use of lipids within their bodies rather than through a swim bladder. This gives the fish a high fat content, which is a key reason it is so highly sought after by chefs. The lack of a swim bladder also means that fishermen can tag and release these fish to better understand the status of their populations. We tag and release around 5000 toothfish each year, which contributes to the world class scientific programs that operates in this fishery.

Austral Fisheries is a proud founding member of COLTO - the Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators - whose mission is to promote sustainable toothfish fishing and fisheries, and to facilitate its Members working together and with others, including through continued provision of high quality scientific data to CCAMLR and other bodies.

Austral Fisheries Australian Fisheries Management

Fisheries Management

Austral Fisheries is licensed by the Australian Government to fish for Patagonian Toothfish in Australia’s sub-Antarctic zones, which is regulated by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) taking into account ecosystem-based measures set by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).  Strict conservation measures and conditions on fishing rights are in place to ensure compliance with quotas, catch landing and verification, and limiting our impact on the environment.

We carry one Australian Government observer as well as an independent government-approved Data Collection Officer on board each of our voyages.  The work conducted by these two observers includes the monitoring and biological sampling of the catch and bycatch, as well as conducting a range of research work including random stratified trawl surveys and tag and recapture studies to assist scientists to assess the status of the resource and therefore appropriate levels of catch.  Any interactions between the fishing operation and other species such as seabirds and marine mammals are monitored and recorded.  

Austral Fisheries Icefish Sustainable MSC Certified

Mackerel Icefish

The Mackerel Icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari) is a species unique to the sub-Antarctic and was the first finfish in Australia to be certified by the MSC as a sustainable and well managed fish.

The flesh of Icefish is fine textured, white in colour and one of the worlds best kept secrets.  Icefish have very high levels of Omega 3, polyunsaturated fatty acids and can be consumed whole or filleted. Icefish are generally between 24cm and 36cm in overall length.

Southern Ocean Fleet

We have three vessels operating in the sub-Antarctic, the Atlas Cove, a dual purpose trawler-longliner that fishes for MSC certified Patagonian toothfish and MSC certified Mackerel icefish (this vessel also spends a small portion of its time fishing the Southern Indian Ocean High Seas).  

We also have two longline vessels that catch our MSC certified Patagonian toothfish, the Isla Eden, and the Corinthian Bay, all of which use world leading mitigation techniques for longlining to minimise seabird bycatch.

Click the vessel names below to discover more.

Isla Eden

The Isla Eden was purchased by Austral Fisheries in 2012 and sailed its maiden voyage for the company from Norway to Mauritius in 2013.  It is a 1994 Norwegian built 50m longliner that was especially built for catching toothfish.

Atlas Cove

 

Built in 1999, the 68m Atlas Cove, formerly the purse seine vessel, Osterbris 2, was purchased by Austral in 2014.  A major 4 month refit was undertaken in Norway to convert her into a one-of-a-kind dual purpose longline/trawl vessel.  This was particularly important for Austral in order to make the most out of the short longline season for Toothfish, while also retaining the trawl capacity to catch Icefish, and undertake important survey work

Corinthian Bay

Formerly the Seljevaer, the Corinthian Bay was purchased in 2015.  Built in 1998, she is a 55m longliner that can carry 30 crew.

Fishing Operation

Heard Island

Our Southern Ocean fleet operates around Heard Island, 4,000km south-west of Perth, which is part of Australia’s sub-Antarctic territories.

Heard Island is home to Australia’s only active volcano, the Big Ben, which is permanently covered in snow and cloud and dominates the island’s topography. Here, we are entitled to catch Patagonian toothfish and Mackerel icefish, and have been working in this fishery since 1996.

We have also been involved in the Macquarie Island toothfish fishery, south-east of Tasmania, since 1994.

These three fisheries are certified as sustainable and well managed by the Marine Stewardship Council.

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Macquarie Island

Our Southern Ocean fleet operates around Heard Island, 4,000km south-west of Perth, which is part of Australia’s sub-Antarctic territories.

Heard Island is home to Australia’s only active volcano, the Big Ben, which is permanently covered in snow and cloud and dominates the island’s topography. Here, we are entitled to catch Patagonian toothfish and Mackerel icefish, and have been working in this fishery since 1996.

We have also been involved in the Macquarie Island toothfish fishery, south-east of Tasmania, since 1994.

These three fisheries are certified as sustainable and well managed by the Marine Stewardship Council.

FIND OUT MORE