How We Operate

The zones

Fishing Area

The Falkland Islands fishing area consists of the Inner and Outer Conservation Zones. CFL operates largely within the FOCZ (Falkland Islands Outer Conservation Zone) although at certain times of the year we operate in slightly shallower waters of the Falkland Islands Interim Conservation and Management Zone (FICZ). The minimum depth which our licence permits us to fish is 600m.

The fishery is year-round except within the spawning area around the Burdwood Bank, an undersea bank some 200 km south of the Falklands which is an area known to be important for seabirds, mammals, a high diversity of cold-water corals and known to be an important spawning area for toothfish.  As a special conservation measure it is closed to fishing activity between 1st June and 31st August to protect the spawning stock biomass.

Falkland Island waters in this area are deep with fast moving cold currents. Lines are often set to about 1700 metres and can be displaced by several miles over several hours.

As part of our MSC related research we have obtained some magnificent footage of the benthic life on the ocean floor which has given us an insight into the biodiversity at these depths.

CFL is the sole quota holder for toothfish in the Falkland Islands zone.

Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ)

Since 2007, the Falkland Islands Government has operated a system of Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ). Under this system quota is allocated by the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department to locally owned fishing companies for periods up to 25 years. These quotas are decided year-to-year based on annual stock assessments and are subject to a range of harvest control rules that ensure long-term sustainability of the fishery.

As a result, we are committed to protecting the long-term sustainability of toothfish in the Falklands and sought MSC Certification of the fishery to ensure this. This was achieved in 2014 through close collaboration between CFL and the Fisheries Department.

longline systems
The CFL Hunter employs the umbrella system of longlining, a far more efficient method in the Falkland Islands than autolining due to the strong currents in Falklands waters.
Nature first

Protecting Wildlife

Umbrellas were devised by Chilean fisherman to combat depredation of the fish on the line by whales, principally sperm whales and killer whales, and has had the added benefit of strengthening seabird mortality mitigation measures.

Feathered friends

Seabird Safety

The umbrella system is formed of a bell-shaped net which drapes over a cluster of hooks, preventing birds from accessing and getting caught on hooks during setting and hauling operations and provides a barrier to the whales accessing the fish within the system.

In addition to this, CFL utilises a number of methods to mitigate seabird mortalities:

Weights: these are placed along the line, helping it sink much faster during setting operations meaning seabirds have no time to target the baited hooks before they disappear beneath the surface.


Bait is fully defrosted before being used to decrease its bouyancy.

Tori Lines

These consist of long lines with streamers attached deployed from the stern of the vessel which are towed along behind the boat during setting. The streamers ring-fence the hooked longlines and so discourages the birds from attacking the line.

Hook Removal and Disposal

We ensure that the crew are alert and properly trained in the factory to remove any hooks caught in the discards and to dispose of them properly preventing birds from getting hooked when feeding off the discards from the vessel.

Brickle Curtain

A simple mechanism around the hauling area consisting of rope lines connecting poles at right-angles to the vessel, preventing birds from becoming hooked as the line is winched up from the seabed. The device was developed by a former employee at CFL, Dr Paul Brickle, and is now used on vessels around the world