Forsøksdyr: Development of methods relevant to adaptive management of the Antarctic Krill fishery

Godkjenningsdato 25.10.2018

Godkjenningsperiode 01.11.2018-04.05.2019

The primary objective for this project is to develop knowledge on the marine environment essential for ensuring the sustainable harvesting of Antarctic Krill with respect to the predators that depend on it. Deriving a suite of representative ecosystem indicator species that are easy to monitor underpins this strategy. Consequently, understanding where and how krill dependent predators such as penguins and fur seals forage as well as quantifying how much krill is required is crucial if these species are to be used as ecosystem indicators.

This project involves electronic tagging / instrumentation and biological sampling (blood taking, stomach lavaging) of pygoscelid penguins (Adelie total N=150, chinstrap total N=400, and gentoo total N=200) and Antarctic fur seals (N=60) at 3 locations along the western Antarctic Peninsula in order to describe what they eat and how they find food. Replicating this study across 3 field sites throughout the geographic range of the Antarctic krill fishery enables us to understand the variance in the foraging behaviour of these species. Determining variance is crucial because for penguins and fur seals to be used as ecosystem indicators, an understanding of what is "noise" (natural variability) versus a "signal" (an actual effect) is critical for the provision of advice regarding sustainable harvesting.

Essentially, our project will work towards ensuring predators have sufficient krill to thrive, while maximising harvesting potential in an ecologically sustainable manner.

The potential for adverse effects:

The approaches involved in this work reflects a continuous development of techniques from similar research conducted on these (and other) species over the last 3 decades. For example, the refinement of handling procedures and the improvement (miniaturisation) of electronic tags over this time period coupled with the success of these techniques in other studies with no ill effects means we expect no long-term adverse effects.

Addressing the demands for replacement, reduction and improvement:

Replacement - as the project involves studying krill-dependent predators and their interactions with the western Antarctic Peninsula krill-dominated ecosystem, replacement is not possible.

Reduction - given the population sizes of each species along the WAP, we would prefer to have larger sample sizes than those outlined in this application, however, financial and logistical practicalities preclude this.

Improvement - electronic tags used to track marine predators have decreased in size and weight considerably over the last decade, and this project will continue to improve on experimental protocols through the use of the most modern and least intrusive tags available to achieve its goal.