The South Georgia Maritime Zone covers more than one million square kilometres. It is home to some of the best managed, most sustainable, fisheries in the world. The Government oversees all commercial fishing within the zone and has a dedicated Fisheries Patrol Vessel to ensure that no illegal fishing occurs. In the face of overfishing and growing demand for food worldwide, South Georgia offers a model for how fisheries, conservation NGOs, scientists and Governments can work together to deliver sustainable fisheries and environmental protection. The Government is continually reviewing its management practices. The fisheries operate within a Marine Protected Area, designated in 2012 on the basis of scientific evidence, to protect and sustainably manage the Territory’s marine ecosystem. This protects 92% of the seafloor from fishing activity, and prohibits all fishing within 12nm of the coast of South Georgia to protect land-based foraging birds and mammals. The Government is now working with partners to help improve fisheries management in other parts of the world. Through this work we hope to help protect some of South Georgia’s extraordinary biodiversity, such as the iconic wandering albatross, which may travel many thousands of miles from South Georgia, before returning to breed.
Fisheries protection vessel Pharos SG patrols the SGSSI Maritime zone year-round.
Three commercial fisheries operate within the maritime zone: a long-line fishery for toothfish (technically this is two fisheries, one around South Georgia (MSC certified) and one around the South Sandwich Islands) and pelagic trawl fisheries for mackerel icefish (MSC certified) and krill.
Health and safety is of paramount importance for vessels operating in the severe and isolated waters of the SGSSI maritime zone. In 2013 we introduced new inspections which aim to ensure that fishing vessels have safe operating practices and acceptable working and living conditions in as set out in the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol and it is now mandatory for vessels to pass this inspection before they start fishing.
All fisheries are regulated and managed in accordance with the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) system. The Marine Protected Area Management Plan describes toothfish, icefish and krill fisheries in detail.