Archive for the ‘Observer’ Category

23rd July 2009

July 24, 2009

Research fishing, the collection of biological data and the tag and release of Toothfish and Skates are just some of the many responsibilities we must undertake so this fishery continues to be properly managed and compliant with (MSC) the Marine Stewardship Certification authority.

Sam is our official observer for this trip. He is appointed by a British “Marine Research Advisory Group” (MRAG) to help us comply with all the relevant fishing regulations, collect important biological data, record species by-catch, details of tag release and recaptured fish. Every week Sam sends his report to the South Georgia Fisheries base, at King Edward Point where his records are compared with our daily reports for accuracy.

Adam (on the left) is assisting Sam by writing down the details of a small recaptured Toothfish as Sam calls them out (weight, length, sex, gonad state, general condition and tag numbers). You can just see the little yellow tag behind the fishes dorsal fin.

Adam (on the left) is assisting Sam by writing down the details of a small recaptured Toothfish as Sam calls them out (weight, length, sex, gonad state, general condition and tag numbers). You can just see the little yellow tag behind the fishes dorsal fin.

Each time a Toothfish is recaptured the crew get $10US. Sam will hand out the cash to the crew that spot the fish when we get back to Port Stanley. This is a good incentive for the crew and helps create some interest in the tag and release program. After all…it is their wages that gets put back in the water in the first place.

Rgds: John B.

18th January 2009

January 19, 2009

More colossal encounters. This time we have found a squid beak inside one of the toothfish. We think the beak must have been inside the fish for some time as there was no sign of a struggle with tentacle marks on any of the fish we’ve caught in this area and there was no squid, other than our bait, in any of the stomachs the observers had sampled for the last few days.

squid-beak-21

We wonder how long it would take for a toothfish to digest a beak like that… probably some time we imagine.

kina-and-copeopod

Check out the kina with attitude: they are not toothpicks, it was walking about on those stalks when I took its photo. We think the other beast is a copepod of some kind. We’ll take it home for proper identification by people who know more about these fellers than we do.

Rgds: John B.

15th January 2009

January 16, 2009

Work goes on in the factory.

Nick is cutting collars off the toothfish heads; these are packed separately. The cheeks are also removed from the head and the only parts sent to the offal tanks are the head itself and the guts; all the rest is processed and stowed in the hold.

Nick is cutting collars off the toothfish heads; these are packed separately. The cheeks are also removed from the head and the only parts sent to the offal tanks are the head itself and the guts; all the rest is processed and stowed in the hold.

Josh, Frodo and Aaron taking a large processed fish from the holding tank to the wash bin where the blood will be scrubbed from the gut cavity before going into the blast freezers.

Josh, Frodo and Aaron taking a large processed fish from the holding tank to the wash bin where the blood will be scrubbed from the gut cavity before going into the blast freezers.

Pete, the CCAMLR observer, holds up a large starfish that came off the last line. We don't often catch much other than toothfish (our target species), grenadier and skate. So when something different comes up on a line, it is recorded and retained as a specimen to be analysed by the experts at home.

Pete, the CCAMLR observer, holds up a large starfish that came off the last line. We don't often catch much other than toothfish (our target species), grenadier and skate. So when something different comes up on a line, it is recorded and retained as a specimen to be analysed by the experts at home.

Occasionally we find something different, usually from the stomach contents of a toothfish that has been examined by the observers while doing their biological sampling. More about that later.

Rgds: John B.

23rd December 2008

December 23, 2008

Yesterday afternoon CCAMLR issued notification to all vessels that areas B,C and G would be closed to all fishing at midnight 22nd December 2008. After that time we must make all efforts to haul our lines from the water and cease fishing in this area. Now all vessels are faced with the same dilemma, how to get access from the northern grounds to the southern grounds in the Ross Sea when there is still 360 mile of slowly melting sea ice between here and there. Indications that we have from satellite images are showing several possible tracks that we could take. But for now we must wait for at least a few days as more information comes in so we can find the safest course through the maze of leads and open water.

At least we will have plenty of down time to enjoy a good Christmas dinner without having to rush away on deck to start our shifts.

One of the most fascinating things to come across in Antarctic waters, are “Jade” ice bergs. I have attached some photos of the only Jade bergs that I have seen in 10 years of fishing these waters. Hopefully we get to see another one this season. Try and Google (Jade icebergs) they are fascinating.

Jade iceberg

Jade iceberg

Jade iceberg 2

Jade iceberg 2

Jade iceberg 3

Jade iceberg 3

Rgds: John B.

14th December 2008 – Observer’s Update

December 16, 2008

This entry comes courtesy of our Ministry of Fisheries observer, Marli.

I am one of two observers on the vessel Antarctic Chieftain. In relation to the vessel’s permit, two Observers are taken every summer on each vessel. We do 12-hour shifts so each 24 hours is covered. It is a great job and I feel very lucky to have been able to be an Observer during the Ross Sea Antarctic Toothfish season on 3 other occasions.

It is a long time to be at sea especially when you know there is a warm sea, flowering Pohutukawa and the sound of Cicadas that you are missing at home. What doesn’t help either is the odd feeling of groundhog day but then along comes another iceberg, a group of comical Adele penguins, a Whale, a Crabeater seal or another amazing ‘almost’ sunset and your day is made. And it is day – even though my shift is from midnight till midday – as the sun doesn’t really set.

Observer Marli and penguin friend

Observer Marli and penguin friend

My tasks include measuring a lot of Toothfish, sexing and staging and collecting Toothfish ear bones that land-based Scientists use to tell the age of the fish the bone was taken from. We also try to check the contents of as many Toothfish stomachs as possible as one of our tasks includes collecting fish specimens for an amazing team of people at the Te Papa Fish Museum. Sometimes a Toothfish stomach provides a barely digested fish that ends up in a jar on a shelf as an important specimen.

The vessels I have been on have taken great pride in being part of this process and along with tagging data have provided an amazing amount of information and specimens that have helped the scientists to have a greater understanding of the ecology of the Ross Sea.

I also get to wear a survival suit everyday and stand out in the bracing elements conducting observations on the line hauled and the line set. It is like wearing your own tent so it is quite comfortable and good for the soul to get some outside time even if it’s only your eyes that are exposed.  I  am enjoying my trip so far on the Antarctic Chieftain and am looking forward to our journey further into the Ross Sea.

Marli.