PROSPECTIVE Chile south austral Patagonian toothfish - cachalotera/longline

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What is a Prospective FIP?
Prospective FIPs intend to meet the requirements for active FIPs within one year. These projects are posted on FisheryProgress to help users identify opportunities to support developing FIPs and prevent the start of duplicate FIPs. Prospective FIPs are not yet demonstrating progress toward sustainability.

The Chilean seabass (Patagonian toothfish) Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) aims to improve the status of the fishery to a standard that will allow it to pass a full assessment of a well-established, science-based certification program, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The project is promoted and financed by the Magallanes Seabass Operators Trade Association (AOBAC Asociación Gremial de Operadores de Bacalao de Profundidad de Magallanes), an organization that represents the interests of industrial fishermen who fish this resource south of parallel 47ºS and includes the companies Globalpesca S.P.A., Deris S.A., and Pesca Cisne S.A.

The FIP is led by the Fishing Study Center (CEPES Centro de Estudios Pesqueros), an organization with extensive experience in stock assessment and sustainable use of the resources of the southern austral zone of Chile, including Chilean seabass. CEPES has historically advised AOBAC and together they have developed a series of research projects, in coordination with the fishing authority, Undersecretary of Fishery (SUBPESCA Subsecretaría de Pesca), providing scientific information valuable for its management (

The Chilean seabass is a deep sea fish with a wide geographical distribution range in the Southern Hemisphere, mainly associated with the cold Antarctic and Southern Ocean waters, extending to the Eastern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Southwest Atlantic. It is a species of high commercial interest due to its high price in the markets and is known internationally as Chilean seabass, Patagonian toothfish and Black hake. Industrial extraction in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Chile, south of the 47°S parallel began in 1989 in an exploratory fisheries framework. After only three years,  was development the commercial fishing, which was early ordered by a set of measures aimed mainly at limiting access, avoid the excessive growth of fishing effort and regulating catch rates. Currently, the industrial fleet is composed of five factory longliners (freezers) that fish on the slope, between 1000 and 2500 m in depth. Until 2005, the predominant fishing gear was the longline (Spanish system), which was almost completely replaced in 2008 by the "cachalotera", a technological innovation in fishing gear developed to avoid depredation of the catch by mammals (sperm whales and killer whales) during the recovery phase of the fishing set. This new fishing gear has additionally incorporated other improvements in its design that have significantly reduced bird interaction and mortality and have contributed to improved fishing yields. In the last decade, the landings of the industrial fleet have been very stable, around 1200 t, with increasing yields per hook in the recent five-year period. The 2021 landing of the AOBAC fleet, which owns 97% of the auctioned industrial fishing quota, was 1224 t equivalent to 87% of the total landing in the fishery area. Since 2015 the fishery has had a discard monitoring program, which has onboard cameras that continuously film fishing operations on all vessels. Estimated discard values are low, only 2% of the total Chilean seabass catch is discarded due to specimens damaged by the action of mammals or other operational factors inherent to the fishing activity that decrease its commercial value.

Overall fisheries in Chile are regulated under the General Law for Fishery and Aquaculture (LGPA Ley General de Pesca y Aquicultura), which provides the regulatory framework for sustainable management of hydrobiological resources and their environment in Chile, through the application of the precautionary and ecosystemic approaches. Specifically, it establishes that the management strategy, based on catch quota, must reach and maintain the stock around the spawning biomass that produces the Maximum Sustained Yield (MSY). The main conservation measure is the Total Allowable Catch (TAC), allocated through individual fishing quotas, called Extraordinary Fishing Permits (PEP Permisos Extraordinarios de Pesca) tendered in public auctions. The TAC is established annually by SUBPESCA, based on a range of Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) recommended by the Technical Scientific Committee (CCT Comité Científico Técnico) according to the status of the stock and the control rule established in the management plan prepared by the Management Committee (CM Comité de Manejo) of the fishery.  At the present, the management plan is under development, so the CCT is temporarily applying a constant fishing mortality control rule corresponding to that which produces the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) in the long term.

The status of the Chilean EEZ stock is defined annually by two indicators of the stock assessment model, the fishing mortality rate (F) and the spawning biomass (SSB), and Biological Reference Points (BRP) based on MSY that define thresholds of spawning biomass that it is not advisable to exceed (SSBlimit), desirable levels to reach (SSBtarget) and an upper limit to fishing mortality (Flimit) equal to that produced in the long term by MSY. The latest status report for October 2021, indicates that the level of fishing mortality is below the limit, therefore, not overfishing. The spawning biomass is above the limit biomass level, but below the target level, qualifying the stock as overfished.

The FIP aims to promote collaboration between the government, users of the fishery, and scientific advisors to design and evaluate a management plan that contains a control rule that will allow the stock, in the medium term, to achieve the objectives of sustainability of the fishery, minimize its impact on the ecosystem and improve its governance.

FIP Description 

The Chilean seabass (Patagonian toothfish) Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) aims to improve the status of the fishery to a standard that will allow it to pass a full assessment of a well-established, science-based certification program, such as t

FIP Type 
FIP Stage 
Stage 0: FIP Identification
Common Name 
Patagonian Toothfish
Scientific Name
Dissostichus eleginoides
Gear Type 
FAO Major Fishing Area
Area 87 (Pacific, Southeast)
Exclusive Economic Zones
Geographic Scope 
South of parallel 47°S
Country Flag of Vessel 

FIP Leads

Organization Name 
Centro de Estudios Pesqueros (CEPES)
Organization Type 
Primary Contact 
Patricia Ruiz Opazo
+56 9 95884668
Organization Name 
Centro de Estudios Pesqueros (CEPES)
Organization Type 
Primary Contact 
Sarah Hopf González
+56 9 84563982
FIP Identification Number The FIP Identification Number is automatically generated by FisheryProgress when a FIP profile is created. While the number itself is not meaningful, they are used by NGOs, academia, and industry to refer to FIPs in a consistent way.