Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund: 3rd call for project proposals. Open.

 

Closing date June 23rd 2017

Since the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources was first agreed in May 1980, it has been incumbent upon Members to conserve Antarctic marine living resources, whilst also allowing rational use, which has so far been taken to mean sustainable fishing. Under this Convention, fisheries management must therefore prevent any fishery-induced change to the marine ecosystem, or minimize the risk of any such change, that is not potentially reversible over two to three decades. Therefore, when making decisions about potential management actions, CCAMLR must take into account the state of available knowledge (see Convention text1).

The commercial fishery for Antarctic krill is currently managed under a series of measures that, though thought to be precautionary, are not founded upon scientific evidence. Therefore, CCAMLR has initiated a programme of work2 that it is hoped will develop a feedback management approach, using decision rules to adjust selected activities (including for example, the distribution and level of krill catch) in response to the state of monitored indicators, while maintaining a precautionary approach and taking into account spatial and temporal ecosystem structure.

In undertaking such a programme of work, CCAMLR has recognised that there are many gaps in knowledge, but that monitored indicators might be used to: (i) provide advance warning about the potential risks of fishing and to advise on requirements for further precaution and/or focused future research and monitoring investments; (ii) adjust catch limits and the spatial distribution of catches; and (iii) characterise long-term changes in the ecosystem to facilitate strategic decision making.
The Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund (hereafter AWR) wishes to contribute to and support the work of CCAMLR so that the Antarctic krill fishery is managed in a sustainable manner consistent with the precautionary approach detailed in the Convention text. The aims of the AWR3 have therefore been developed to be consistent with the work of CCAMLR.

It is envisaged that any research and monitoring work supported by the AWR will build, incrementally, towards a new management approach for the krill fishery. Funded work should therefore support, rather than replace, the work of CCAMLR. In developing research proposals for consideration by the AWR, it is hoped that projects will be collaborative in nature, including between scientists from different CCAMLR Members and/or between scientists and krill fishing companies.

Each grant will be for a specific piece of work, and no long-term commitment to any individual or group should be assumed. The AWR is competitive and only proposals that are judged to provide excellent science4 and to fit the aims of the fund will be considered. Applicants should ensure that their proposals are cost effective. Where appropriate, the track record of project proponents will be taken into consideration. All proposals should be presented on the official project application form5.

In supporting the development of a feedback management approach for the krill fishery, the AWR wishes to fund work that will increase understanding about how the Antarctic marine ecosystem operates and how it might be characterised as a set of indicators for use by managers. Such work might involve desk or field studies to fill critical knowledge gaps or provide early warning signals about future ecological change. For the current round of funding USD$ 100,000 is available. It is unlikely that all of this amount will be awarded to a single project, though this may be possible for a particularly compelling proposal. Successful proposals might generally expect to receive in the order of USD$ 50,000 to USD$ 100,000.

Critical knowledge gaps that might be preferred in the 3rd call for project proposals could include:

  1. The use of acoustic data collected from none traditional scientific research platform.
    Largely due to the logistic complexity and associated costs, no large-scale field surveys for krill have been undertaken in areas used by the krill fishery since 2000. Therefore, enhancing understanding within CCAMLR about how acoustic data collected from fishing vessels, autonomous remotely operated underwater vehicles or from fixed mooring buoys might be used to provide information about intra- and inter-annual changes in krill distribution and abundance, particularly in those areas preferred by the fishery, is important. Studies showing how these new acoustic datasets might be used by CCAMLR, particularly in relation to changes in krill abundance and distribution, is a key issue for management.
     
  2. The role of flying birds in the krill centric food web.
    Spatial management of krill fisheries by CCAMLR has, to date, largely considered the demands of diving predators, including penguins. Information on the level of krill consumption by flying seabirds, and the potential competition with krill fisheries, have long been recognised as major data gaps by CCAMLR. Tracking and at-sea survey data indicate that in some areas of operation, krill fishing vessels overlap with the preferred foraging localities of flying seabirds. Even in situations of limited spatial overlap, there may be a competitive and therefore functional overlap, as flying seabirds may rely on krill advected from areas where fisheries operate. Improved analyses of both spatial and functional overlap of flying seabirds with krill fisheries and areas of high densities would therefore be informative, particularly as fishing vessels access krill at much deeper depths than flying seabirds, and so may respond differently to krill dynamics.
     
  3. The role of fish in the krill centric food web.
    Fish have been identified as potentially another major consumers of krill in the Antarctic, but little information exists about their spatial and temporal levels of consumption. Studies on the distribution and abundance, as well as diet variability and foodweb connections of krill-eating fish would be particularly informative for management.

Other novel or exciting projects may be considered where they match closely with the aims of the AWR. Such projects should seek to inform the development of feedback management approaches.

Applicants should give details about the proposed start and end dates of any proposal. Applicants should also provide specific dates by which outputs and products from the research will be produced. Successful proposals should preferably start as soon as possible; desk-based components for any proposals should commence before 1 July 2018, while any fieldwork should commence in the 2017/2018 field season. Total duration for the project should not exceed 24 months.


NOTES

  1. https://www.ccamlr.org/en/system/files/e-pt1.pdf.
  2. https://www.ccamlr.org/en/system/files/e-cc-xxx.pdf, paragraph 4.17.
  3. Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund - Scientific Research Plan - 5 December 2014.doc.  http://www.antarcticfund.org/scientific-research-plan/
  4. Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund - Science Advisory Group - Terms of Reference - 5 December 2014.doc. http://www.antarcticfund.org/sag
  5. Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund - Project Proposal Application Form - 5 December 2014.doc.