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Various fisheries

Purse-seine fishery

Purse Seiner
South African commercial and recreational fishers exploit over 250 marine species, although fewer than 5% of these are actively targeted and these very few species comprise 90% of the catch. 
 
The pelagic purse-seine fishery – targeting predominantly sardine (Sardinops sagax) and anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), with redeye herring (Etrumeus whiteheadi) and horse mackerel (Trachurus spp.) supplementing the catch – supplies the greatest tonnage of fish landed per year (538 000 tonnes in 2002). 
 
The contribution of sardine to the total 2004 South African pelagic catch of 373 000 tonnes reflects the current healthy status of the sardine stock, after a near-collapse in the late 1960s.  Recovery of this stock reflects good management, principally based on a large reduction in fishing activities.  The further recovery of sardine stocks since 1999 has also assisted other marine species that feed on sardines, such as snoek, yellowtail, seabirds, and seals.
 
Figure 7.11: Pelagic fisheries catches in South Africa, 1950-2004
Pelagic fisheries catches in South Africa, 1950–2004
Source:  Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and Council for
Scientific and Industrial Research

Trawl fishery

Hout Bay fishermen
The demersal trawl fishery is South Africa’s second largest fishery in terms of the amount of fish landed (163 500 tonnes in 2003) and the most important in terms of value, having contributed some R1.6 billion in 2003 (47% of the total revenue of South African fisheries). 
 
The deep-sea hake (demersal offshore trawl) lands the highest value catch, contributing 44% to the total revenue of South African fisheries (the pelagic and line fisheries contribute 20% and 11%, respectively).
 
In the 1960s, the demersal trawl fishery contributed as much as 90% of South Africa’s overall fish landings, but this contribution declined to 60% during the 1990s because of a shift in focus to mixed-species fisheries and increased landings of the by-catch from this fishery. 
 
The demersal trawl fishery is non-selective, yielding a high proportion of by-catch and causing extensive environmental degradation of the seabed.  Long-line fishing is less destructive on the marine environment (although more dangerous to seabirds) as it targets most demersal trawl species more successfully and discards only a limited amount of by-catch. 
 
In 1983, an experimental hake long-line fishery was first introduced in South Africa.  This form of fishing was extremely effective in catching a large amount of kingklip (Genypterus capensis), also a very valuable and marketable species.   In 1986, as a result, catch rates of kingklip began to decline noticeably and, although a maximum limit of 5 000 tonnes of kingklip by-catch was set, catches continued to decrease further.  By early 1991, all demersal long-line fishing was officially stopped, but in 1994 a hake-directed experimental long-line fishery was established, with increasing total allowable catches being allocated each subsequent year. 
 
Currently, hake stocks are targeted by demersal trawl (deep-sea and inshore), long-line, and hand-line (from ski-boats) fishing efforts, which place considerable pressure on this resource. 
 
Since 1999, the hake resource has shown early warning signs of depletion and, as a precautionary measure, the total allowable catch has been reduced by between 2 000 and 3 000 tonnes each year since 2003.  The status of the stocks and the associated environmental parameters are being carefully monitored.
 
Figure 7.12: Commercial catch landed for hake fishery (M. paradoxus and M. capensis) from offshore and inshore trawl, handline and longline catches, 1960-2003
Commercial catch landed for hake fishery (Merluccius
paradoxus and M. capensis
) from offshore and inshore trawl, handline,
and long-line catches, 1960–2003
Source: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism: Marine and
Coastal Management, Demersal Section

Third most important fishery

Yellowtail
Linefish comprise the third most important South African fishery with respect to total tonnes landed and total value.  In 2000, the total reported commercial linefish catch was 24 103 tonnes, contributing 11% of the total value of South African fisheries.  Landings from the open-access recreational fishery are not reported, however, and the total catch from this sector is estimated to be double that of the reported commercial sector.
 
The uncontrolled exploitation of these stocks has had significant adverse effects: of the most frequently targeted linefish species, at least 18 are classified as collapsed, 4 as over-exploited, 6 as optimally exploited, and only 2 as under-exploited. 
 
Factors contributing to the demise of linefish stocks include increased commercial and recreational fishing, in conjunction with life-history traits (in particular, predictable locality, longevity, and late maturity), so these species have become especially vulnerable to over-exploitation. 
 
Two linefish species currently being optimally exploited are snoek (Thyrsites atun) and yellowtail (Seriola lalandii).  Hottentot (Pachymetopon blochii), elf/shad (Pomatomus saltatrix), red roman (Chrysoblephus laticeps), and carpenter (Argyrozona argyrozona) are considered to be over-exploited, while some of those that have collapsed are silver kob (Aryrosomus inodorus), white steenbras (Lithognathus lithognathus), red stumpnose (Chrysoblephus gibbiceps) and slinger (Chrysoblephus puniceus).
 
To address the failure of past regulations in managing South Africa’s linefish resource, a Linefish Management Protocol (LMP) was developed in 1999, bringing drastic reductions in commercial linefish effort and stringent bag limits for recreational fishers.  Little has improved in the status of most linefish species since 1999, however, and the opportunity costs of the degrading of this resource are enormous. 
 
New linefish policies, based on the Linefish Management Protocol, were gazetted in May 2005 to help to rebuild linefish stocks.
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This page was last updated 06/12/2007