/ ©: Thomas Peschak

Responsible fishing

Our oceans provide us with tremendous economic, social and cultural benefits. They act as a vast highway for commerce, provide a place for recreation and supply food and income for 2.6 billion people worldwide.
Today, however, it has become clear that our oceans are in deep trouble. Overfishing of our marine resources has in many cases left us with dangerously depleted fish stocks. According to the State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) released in 2008, 80% of global fish stocks are being fished either at or above sustainable levels (read more). This is also evident in South African waters; because of the different sectors targeting our resources and the many different methods used to catch fish, our fish stocks simply cannot replenish themselves fast enough.

In addition to this, some fisheries are wasteful, resulting in a quarter of marine resources caught being discarded, including vulnerable and endangered species such as sea birds, turtles and sharks (read more). Some fishing methods also cause damage to habitats critical to the survival of many marine species.

And with the poor state of the world’s wild-capture stocks, fish farming (or aquaculture), is seen by many as the answer to overfishing, but this also has its associated impacts and consequences that cannot be ignored.

While the outlook for our threatened marine ecosystems may appear disheartening in the face of unsustainable fishing practices, there are ways of helping to reverse these negative effects. To address the problem of overfishing, we need an Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries (EAF) management. The Responsible Fisheries Programme (RFA), along with its sister programme SASSI, aims to create a climate for the successful implementation of an EAF in southern Africa, throughout the entire seafood supply chain. The RFA is an alliance between large fishing companies and the WWF-SA.

 / ©: Martin Harvey_WWF
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.
© Martin Harvey_WWF

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Our programme goals

  • To create a climate for the successful implementation on an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) in South Africa and Namibia by 2010.
    We propose to achieve this by:

    • Assisting in the setting up the appropriate management systems and structures that can deal with ecosystem issues
    • Developing capacity and skills for EAF implementation
    • Building awareness and support amongst all stakeholders
    • Developing economic and other incentives for EAF implementation
    • Piloting technical gear modifications