The commercial and recreational marine skiboat linefisheries in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.
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In order to assess and improve their management, a survey of the commercial and recreational marine linefisheries in Richards Bay was conducted from June 2002 to July 2004. The ultimate aim of this survey was to develop a sound management framework for the commercial and recreational marine Iinefisheries in Richards Bay. Skippers on both commercial and recreational skiboats were all white males in their mid-40s whom were fairly experienced. There were twice as many crew on commercial than recreational skiboats. The crew on commercial skiboats were mostly black males while on recreational skiboats, crew were mostly white males. Slinger was the most important species caught by commercial fishermen off Richards Bay, accounting for the vast majority of catches by number and mass. The total contribution by sparids to commercial catches amounts to approximately 93 % by number and 81 % by mass. Recreational catches comprised a greater variety of species (73 recreational species versus 54 commercial species), signifying a less focussed targeting approach compared to commercial skiboat fishermen. Although slinger also numerically dominated recreational linefish catches, catface rockcod were most important by mass. Although there were five times more recreational outings during the study, total catch by commercial skiboat fishermen was five times higher than that of recreational fishermen. This was expected, as the average duration of each commercial outing is more than twice that of recreational outings and the crew numbers are higher. Commercial skiboat fishermen in Richards Bay are also more effective, as the average number of fish caught per man per hour on commercial skiboats was approximately 4 times greater than that on recreational skiboats. Total estimated catch for the commercial sector was 28 tonnes and 173 tonnes for the recreational sector. Comparison of data between this survey and commercial data available on NMLS showed similar species composition, although the dominance of slinger was 20 % higher in this survey compared to data. Similarly, within the recreational sector, there was a close similarity in catch composition between this survey and that catch inspections. The profit (excluding the costs of fixed assets) that each commercial fisherman earns per month was estimated to be in the region ofR8 500. However, if one examines the value of the commercial linefishery as a whole, it appears that there is a net loss of R90 000 per year, excluding the costs of fixed assets. The discrepancy stems from the disparity between the recorded number of launches and the number reported by skippers. Most of the commercially caught fish are not sold in Richards Bay, but are exported to Gauteng. The average monthly Iinefish catch by commercial fishermen was less than half the average estimated consumption of Iinefish in Richards Bay, and the difference appears to be made up from recreational catches, with many consumers indicating that they either caught their own fish or were given it. Knowledge of and compliance with fishing regulations by commercial and recreational skiboat fishermen in Richards Bay was reasonably good. The main recommendations emanating from this study include continuous monitoring of the Richards Bay commercial and recreational line fishery in order to determine the efficacy of the new regulations, the development of area-based commercial linefishing permits and the possible introduction of restrictions on the sale of fish outside of the Richards Bay area.