An assessment of the shore-based and offshore boat-based linefisheries of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the current management effectiveness of the KwaZulu-Natal linefishery (i.e. the shore linefishery and the offshore boat-based linefishery). Methods used included a stratified-random creel sampling technique and an associated questionnaire survey for the shore-based linefishery and a random access-point technique and associated questionnaire survey for the offshore boat-based linefishery. Additional catch and effort data for the offshore boat-based linefishery was also obtained from Marine and Coastal Management’s (MCM) Linefish Observer Programme. The study was undertaken between February 2009 and April 2010. Total participation within the two linefisheries ranged between 41283-68200 shore-anglers and 21220-28857 boat-fishers (2001-4445 boats). Excluding the increase in the number of boat-fishers that fish off charter vessels (i.e. charter clients), it seems that there have been relatively few new entrants into the marine linefishery of KZN since 1994-96. In contrast, total angler effort in both the shore (779382-1287548 angler-days.annum-1) and offshore (39664 boat outings annum-1) linefisheries has decreased substantially in the past 12 years. Overall catch per unit effort (CPUE) for the KZN shore linefishery amounted to 0.18 ±0.3 fish.angler-1.hour-1 or 0.07 ±0.13 kg.angler-1.hour-1. Eighty-four fish species, belonging to 39 families were recorded in catches of shore-anglers during the study period. Only five species accounted for 75% of the catch recorded along the coast (Sarpa salpa 34.8%, Pomatomus saltatrix 14.7%, Diplodus capensis 14.5%, Pomadasys olivaceum 6.5% and Rhabdosargus holubi 4.9%). The total annual catch for the KZN shore linefishery was estimated between 249.2 and 276.7 metric tonnes (mt).annum-1 (636589 - 706995 fish.annum-1). Overall CPUE was significantly different between the various sectors of the KZN offshore boatbased linefishery. The commercial boat sector had the highest CPUE both numerically (p < 0.05; 307.4 fish.outing-1) and by weight (p < 0.05; 235.6 kg.outing-1). Contrastingly, the recreational boat sector had the lowest CPUE both numerically (p < 0.05, 8.6 fish.outing-1) and by weight (p < 0.05, 15.0 kg.outing-1). The charter boat sector (p < 0.05, 26.6 fish.outing-1 or 41.6 kg.outing-1), although far lower than commercials, had a CPUE slightly higher than the recreational boat sector. In total, 86 fish species, belonging to 27 families were recorded in catches of boat-fishers (all sectors) during the study period. The top five species that comprised the bulk of the commercial catch numerically included Chrysoblephus puniceus (66.0%), Cheimerius nufar (22.4%), Lethrinus nebulosus (4.6%), Pachymetopon aeneum (1.9%) and Chrysoblephus anglicus (0.9%). Similarly, recreational catch composition was dominated by C. iii puniceus (33. 9%), L. nebulosus (9.0%), Thunnus albacares (7.4%), Scomber japonicus (5.3%) and C. anglicus (4.4%). The top five species in charter boat-fishers’ catches comprised C. puniceus (34.4%), L. nebulosus (16.7%), T. albacares (13.1%), C. anglicus (8.1%) and P. aeneum (4.6%). The socio-economic characteristics of the KZN shore and offshore linefisheries have changed very little since the last national linefish assessment conducted during 1994-96. Recreational (both shore and boat-based) and charter anglers generally agree with most of the linefishery regulations, with exception of the beach vehicle ban. However, knowledge and compliance with the current fishery regulations by recreational and charter anglers was limited. Commercial fishers had good knowledge of all the fishery regulations, but did not agree with the minimum legal size and daily bag limits that are in place on certain fish species. Subsequently, the majority of commercial skippers interviewed stated that they disobeyed these two regulations frequently. General policing of the KZN linefishery by EKZNW seems to be more focused on permit requirements rather than enforcing species-specific linefish regulations. Comparison of the catch and effort results of this study with the long-term monitoring data stored on the NMLS showed that while the NMLS data is limited by a number of biases, it still provides a valuable system for monitoring long-term trends in the KZN linefishery. Analysis of overall CPUE, catch composition and total catch in both the shore and offshore linefisheries of KZN suggested that both fisheries are currently in a relatively stable condition and that little change has occurred in the past 12 years. However, comparisons of speciesspecific CPUE values from this study with recent literature suggest that some species (i.e. Argyrosomus thorpei and Scomberomorus commerson) are severely overexploited. Furthermore, in relation to the catches recorded throughout most of the 20th century, current catch trends suggest that linefish resources have been fished to very low levels which are only ‘superficially’ sustainable at current levels of fishing effort.