King Edward Point Diary – May 2009

31 May, 2009

Winter arrived in earnest at KEP in May with some good dumps of snow and also lots of nice cold clear days so on our days off we were able to get out and do some lovely skiing.

Our Doctor, Angy, was called on to go to Bird Island on the Fishery Patrol Vessel for a medical consultation. There are only five people on Bird Island our neighbours at the north of the island, some of them are advanced first aiders but if something more complicated crops up their nearest doctor is here at KEP. Despite only being about 60 miles away we seldom get the chance to see our friends at Bird Island so it was nice that Angy was able to pay a visit.

The toothfish season began on the first of May in South Georgia so we have been busy taking the government officer out to long liners to carry out inspections, during these inspections our Fishery Scientist also goes onboard to speak to the CAMLAR observers who must accompany each fishing vessel to ensure they adhere to the rules and take samples of the catch. The toothfish industry is the main source of income for the South Georgia Government with each toothfish being worth about $100 and each vessel ending the season with about $1,000,000 worth of toothfish.

The South Georgia Toothfish fishery has gained Certification by the Marine Stewardship Council. This is only awarded to Fisheries that are very well managed in order to ensure they are not depleting stocks or negatively affecting other species. Particularly important is that techniques have been introduced to prevent Albatross and other birds being caught as by-catch, unfortunately this is not the case elsewhere in the world and is the main reason that Wandering Albatross numbers are dropping.

Jon our Marine Mammal Biologist also helps out with the fishing science in the winter when there are few mammals around. This month he went out on one of the long liners as a replacement observer for someone who was taken ill. This gave Jon a great chance to see the toothfish fishing in action and also see lots of whales, which have a habit of following the fishing boats.

On the social front we celebrated “six months at KEP” with a nautically themed party in the boatshed. This turned up some imaginative costumes and a great night was had by all.