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.


Valli Moosa, South African environmental affairs and tourism minister (Photo courtesy Office of the Minister)
Deputy director-general of marine and coastal management Horst Kleinschmidt said, "To protect vulnerable stocks of linefish from further depletion, the minister will promulgate regulations during the first quarter of 2001 which will address the commercial, recreational and subsistence exploitation of line fishes."

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.


Known as daggerhead or daggeraad (Chrysoblephus cristiceps), this popular Indian Ocean fish grows up to 20 pounds (9 kilograms). (Two images courtesy Fishing Africa)
The emergency rules will include reductions in the recreational quotas for several fish species, reductions in commercial quotas for some fishes, and a "substantial reduction" in the number of commercial participants.

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. fish

Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) found around Cape Point can reach 170 kilograms (375 pounds).

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.