• toothfish;
  • longline;
  • assessment;
  • Falkland Islands;
  • deep sea

An experimental fishery for Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides was opened in Falkland Island waters briefly in 1992 and then from April 1994. One to two longlines per vessel were usually deployed at night, mostly fishing for 12–30 h at depths between 600 and 2000 m. The characteristics of the vessel, gear, fishing activities and the data collection and analyses methods are described. An initial evaluation of the authors' current understanding of toothfish biology and population dynamics in Falkland Island waters is given. A first analysis of toothfish numbers caught in 1994 suggests that these are changing at rates faster than expected from simple demographic processes. Therefore, despite an intensive monitoring of catch and fishing effort of each vessel, it is still not possible to derive reliable estimates for the size of the toothfish population currently exploited around the Falkland Islands. Migration patterns in and out of the fishery need to be understood before a reliable assessment of the fishery can be made. These results, together with current and future lines of research, are discussed in the light of data available from other toothfish fisheries in austral waters.