South Africa to Set Emergency Fishing Limits
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, January 3, 2001 (ENS) - The severe depletion of at least 20 species of fish has been recognized by the South African government. Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Valli Moosa will soon announce "emergency measures" aimed at rebuilding the numbers of these fishes, a government spokesman said today.
The main reasons for fish population depletion are "a combination of slow growth, long life spans and high fishing effort from both recreational and commercial fishers," Kleinschmidt said.
Surveys have found popular species such as rock cod, slinger, galjoen and three species of kabeljou are overfished. Other fish on the endangered list are: daggerhead, Englishman, geelbek, musselcracker, poenskop, red steenbras, red stumpnose, Roman, Scotsman, seventy four and white steenbras. This preliminary list may expand in the future, Kleinschmidt said.
Kleinschmidt said that more than half a million people in South Africa use hooks and lines to catch 40 key fish species for recreation or for commercial gain.
He said the department is committed to ensuring sustainability of marine resources and equitable access.
"The department fully realises that the intended new regulations will impact on many people who make their livelihood from the sea. To minimize the socio-economic impact of these intended new regulations, some of the present commercial effort will be redirected to more resilient resources," Kleinschmidt said.
The low numbers of some fish species is already making it difficult for many fishermen to make a living.
Commercial line fishing could be split into three sectors, the traditional linefish sector, the hand-line hake sector and the tuna sector with albacore tuna as a traditional target.
Invitations to apply for commercial rights will be announced early this year. The criteria to be used for evaluating participants are currently being developed in conjunction with user groups.
Kleinschmidt said the department would use the funds collected through public permit fees and levies for scientific research and adequate enforcement of the new fishing regulations. Regular patrols by department inspectors and provincial and local government inspectors will be established.
Environmental officials appealed to the public to cooperate with the department in the long term interest of the survival of South Africa's fishes.