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Historical commercial West Coast rock lobster <i>Jasus lalandii </i>landings in South African waters

R Melville-Smith
L van Sittert


Historic data from 1891 to 2001 on the annual exports of rock lobster Jasus lalandii products (canned, frozen tails, raw whole frozen, cooked whole frozen and live) from the South African west coast are used to estimate the annual commercial landings by this fishery. Conversion factors were developed to convert canned, tailed and whole cooked product weight to whole weight. The fishery expanded rapidly from the early 1900s up to the Second World War. Production declined temporally during the war years before peaking in the early 1950s at just under 17 000 tons. Since then, commercial landings have declined to between 10% and 15% of what they were at the height of the commercial fishery. The possible causes for the decline in catch are discussed; overexploitation is undoubtedly one, but human-use patterns and coast-wide reductions in the growth rate of lobsters since the late 1980s are considered to have also contributed.

African Journal of Marine Science 2005, 27(1): 33–44