Fishing in SA

In South Africa, our marine resources are enjoyed and utilised by three main user-groups or sectors:
Recreational Fishing
These users collect or catch fish and other marine organisms as part of leisure activities, and would include shore anglers, underwater (spear-) fishers, shellfish and bait collectors, and recreational boat anglers. Recreational participants in the fishery need to be in possession of a valid recreational fishing permit, must adhere to strict bag and/or size limits for various species, and may never sell their catch. The recreational regulations are made available annually by Marine and Coastal Management.

Subsistence Fishing
This sector may be considered the oldest user-group of marine resources, yet was only formally recognised in the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998. Subsistence fishers are typically people who live in remote rural areas and have difficulty in meeting their basic food needs, and thus depend on the harvesting of seafood such as mussels, rock lobster and fish on a daily basis to provide for their families.
Subsistence fishers by definition only collect for their own consumption and may barter their catch within their local area for other produce. Being a subsistence fisher is a desperate position and alternative livelihoods should be promoted and developed within these often vulnerable communities.

Commercial Fishing
This is the formal fishing sector and can range from relatively small-scale Cape rock oyster fishery, to the highly industrialised multi-million Rand deep-water trawl industry, which primarily targets hake. Over the years the commercial fishing sector has suffered many disputes around fishing entitlement. The finalisation and allocation of medium to long term fishing rights in 2006 aimed to stabilise the various sectors and enable companies to invest in commercial fishing with confidence. As with most fishing rights allocations world-wide the process was not without controversy and dispute. It is important to remember that all marine resources are finite and the number and size of any rights allocated should be determined by this. Over-subscription in a fishery invariably causes the collapse of a resource.

To find out more about how the different fishing methods work, and their relative environmental impacts click here.

 / ©: Samantha Petersen
Vessel with tori-lines
© Samantha Petersen

Commercial Fishing Sectors in South Africa

  • Cluster A
    Hake deep water bottom trawl
    Hake/sole inshore bottom trawl
    Horse mackerel mid-water trawl
    Small pelagics purse-seine
    Patagonian toothfish longline
    South coast rock lobster trap longline
    KwaZulu-Natal prawn bottom trawl

    Cluster B
    Hake longline
    West coast rock lobster, off-shore traps
    Squid jigging
    Seaweed harvesting
    Tuna pole
    Demersal shark longline

    Cluster C
    Handline hake
    West coast rock lobster, near-shore hoop-nets

    Cluster D
    Net fish (gillnets; beach seine and KZN beach seine)
    White mussels