Fishing in the Waters of South Georgia
South Georgia issued four new stamps about fishing in the waters around South Georgia. These postage stamps depict ships at sea and the fish they hunt for.
The waters around South Georgia teem with marine life, thanks to the rich mixing of cold and warm currents at the polar front. Krill, the basic building block of the Southern Ocean's biology, gathers in large swarms and is fed upon by larger fish, penguins and marine mammals. The deep waters around the Island are home to strange species, which only in the last few decades have become a target for fishermen.
Conserving the rich diversity and abundant fish stocks is the first objective of the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Protecting the seas is expensive, with Patrol Vessel costs running over £2m per annum, and research costs nearing £1m. To fund this work, the Government allows carefully controlled and responsible fishing vessels to operate annually under license. It is the fees from the sale of these licenses, which provide the majority of the territory's revenue.
Quotas for fishing
Quotas for fishing are set annually by the international body the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. These quotas take into account the size of the stock and also any other species of wildlife which depend on the fish for food to make sure that the ecosystem is not unbalanced by commercial fishing. There are three commercial fisheries: toothfish, icefish, and krill.
50p Toothfish and Dissostichus Eleginoides
Fished mainly by vessels setting long lines of hooks (often reaching l0km long, with over ten thousand hooks) in waters 2-3km deep, the toothfish is the most valuable of all South Georgia species. It can grow to 2m in length and weigh up to 200kg. Fishing takes place only in winter, when there are fewer breeding birds in the area, but nonetheless stringent requirements to protect seabirds are in place on the vessels. The South Georgia toothfish fishery has received international recognition for its sustainable management in the form of certification from the Marine Stewardship Council. Thanks to computer labeling and tracking of catch consumers in the US and UK can buy toothfish certified as sustainable from South Georgia.
60p Icefish and Champsocephalus Gunnari
This summer fishery operates with mid water trawlers, which target the fish as they gather to feed in the water column. Icefish are small (around 30cm in length) and have firm white flesh. They are unusual in that they have no haemoglobin (red blood cells) in their blood, but instead a kind of 'antifreeze' which enables them to survive the cold water temperatures.
85p Krill and Euphausia Superba
For most of the year huge krill trawlers operate in the far south waters of Antarctica but in winter when the pack ice forms they move north to the relatively ice-free waters of South Georgia to continue fishing for krill. Krill is a small, shrimp-like creature, which can be eaten by humans but is also used as food for fish farms. During the fishing season the trawlers go into Cumberland Bay on the northeast side of South Georgia to transfer their catch onto larger reefer ships for transport back to the markets.
105p Fishery Patrol
In 2006 the South Georgia Government chartered a new Fishery Patrol Vessel, the MV Pharos SG, to patrol the fishery. The vessel's duties involve ensuring that unlicensed vessels do not operate in South Georgia waters as well as inspecting licensed vessels to check that they are fully compliant with all the conditions of their licenses. She spends around two thirds of the year at sea around South Georgia, with brief returns to Stanley in the Falkland Islands to replenish her stores and refuel.
Marine Stewardship Council
Over-fishing is a problem that affects us all. It threatens fish species, millions of jobs around the world and marine eco-systems. What can consumers do to help? Look out for the Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC) blue eco-label when shopping for fish. It identifies fish that has been caught in a responsible way and is only awarded to fisheries that meet the MSC's strict environmental standard.
The MSC is an independent non-profit organization that was founded in 1997 to find a solution to the problem of over-fishing. Together with scientists, fishery experts and conservation groups, the MSC has developed an environmental standard to evaluate and reward sustainable fisheries. Independent experts check if the fisheries meet the MSC standard. Consumers can identify products from certified sustainable fisheries by looking for the blue MSC eco-label.
It's easy to find fish and seafood from well-managed and sustainable fisheries - worldwide, there are over 1000 seafood products with the MSC's eco-label, and shoppers in the UK can choose from over 200 products.
Postage stamps in detail
Issue: South Georgia, 1 May 2008
Designer: Ross Watton
Print: Lithography by BDT International
Perforation: 14 per 2cms
Stamp size: 28.45 x 42.58mm
More information Postage Stamps
Postage Stamps 2008
Stamps South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
WWF Chinstrap Penguin
International Polar Year
Scouts of the Quest