An analysis of the trawl and longline fisheries for Merluccius capensis off the west coast of South Africa

by Fairweather, Tracey Pamela

Abstract (Summary)
The South African hake resource faces divergent fishing pressures and management issues. Although the resource consists of two species, management was simplified because the resource was only subject to trawl effort and because of the similarity in population parameters, single species assessment models could be adopted. The impact of trawling on the stock is considered to be well understood and the resource has shown recovery since exclusion of foreign vessels. The 1990s were punctuated by major political change and the need for transformation has resulted in an expansion of the number of fishing rights holders. Longlining has been reintroduced and there is no clear understanding of how the combined fishing pressures will affect the population structure of either Merluccius capensis or M. paradoxus.

Information is vital to successful management. Fisheries are complex and intricate, and at times appear impossible to control or monitor. An integrated information system provides easily understood graphical explanations of complex issues. This thesis assessed the dynamics of the trawl and longline fisheries between 1994 and 1999 using a geographical information system (GIS). The accessability of a GIS incorporates the needs of scientists, managers and fishing communities. The simple GIS developed in this study revealed shifts in effort, facilitated the calculation of spatially precise catches and biomasses and highlighted the inadequacy of current sampling coverage.

Trawlers were shown to fish the same areas consistently during the years investigated, with highest fishing intensity and average CPUE achieved at depths between 300 and 500m. Analysis of the longline sector revealed several similarities to the trawl sector, fishing intensity was highest between 301 and 500m, suggesting that both sectors face a “friction of distance” dilemma. The distribution and abundance of hake, in particular the exploitable proportion of the population, was determined by a combination of depth and substrate type.

The selectivity patterns of trawlers and longliners were briefly investigated with the results illustrating that gear selectivity of the M. capensis stock was depth dependent. The deeper fishing occurred, the larger the length-at-selection. As a result, the M. capensis parental stock faces unprecedented fishing pressure. In the absence of reliable species-specific catch data, logistic and linear regression models were developed to split the hake catch into its respective species components. Large discrepancies between the predicted M. capensis catch for the two models were noted. Regression estimates constructed at a finer spatial scale may provide a better fit than the current depth logistic employed by Marine and Coastal Management.

A first attempt at assessing the M. capensis resource on the West Coast using an age-structured production model was presented. It was found that a lengthy and accurate M. capensis catch series is required before it is possible to successfully model the dynamics of the stock. It is necessary to incorporate finer spatial detail in the collation of catch data and collection of sampling data. It would be unadvisable to assume that the stock is stable or recovering. The implications of a size/sex relationship must be investigated and properly appraised.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:ichthyology fisheries science


Date of Publication:01/01/2002

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.