Incidental catch of marine organisms registered in the Chilean Antarctic krill fishery, years 2012-2016
Arana, Patricio M.
Krill (Euphausia superba) catch is currently the most relevant fishery industry in Antarctic waters. This resource is a keystone species in the Antarctic food web, sustaining the contribution to the trophic ecology of many invertebrate and vertebrate species. To catch krill, part of the fleet in this fishery uses large mid-water nets that also retain a diversity of other organisms like plankton, meroplankton, and fish species as bycatch. Therefore, it is necessary to understand and evaluate the magnitude of this incidental catch, as well as the potential interactions between krill fishing gear with seabirds and mammals. To estimate the composition and extent of bycatch for this fishery included 784 samples of 25 kg and an equal number of 1 kg sub-samples obtained from Antarctic krill catches in Subarea 48, between years 2012 and 2016. A total of 15 fish species were identified along with the record of five other taxa and other unidentified specimens. The most relevant fish species bycaught by weight were mackerel icefish Champsocephalus gunnari, South Georgia icefish Pseudochaenichthys georgianus, and painted notie Lepidonotothen larseni. Additionally, 20 interactions with seabirds and nine interactions with Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) were registered. In the five years of operations, only three seabirds died, and only two individuals of A. gazelle caught by the net were killed.