Few fish but many fishers: a case study of shore-based recreational angling in a major South African estuarine port

  • LE Beckley School of Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150, Australia
  • ST Fennessy Oceanographic Research Institute, PO Box 10712, Marine Parade 4056, South Africa
  • BI Everett Oceanographic Research Institute, PO Box 10712, Marine Parade 4056, South Africa


Richards Bay is a subtropical estuary that has been extensively dredged to accommodate one of Africa's largest commercial ports. In the non-commercial areas of the harbour, shore-based angling is a popular recreational activity, but little is known about the anglers or their catches. Using a roving creel survey over 12 months, 3 765 shore-anglers were checked for catch and fishing effort information and a further 603 shoreanglers were interviewed using a detailed questionnaire. Fishing effort was higher on weekends (119 anglers per count) than during the week (37 anglers per count). The total annual fishing effort expended by shoreanglers in Richards Bay Harbour was estimated to be 69 064 angler-outings. Mean catch per unit effort was very low at only 0.064 fish angler–1 h–1 or 0.030 kg angler–1 h–1, and total retained catch was estimated to be about 8.5 t y–1. Although 78% of the total catch was released (because the fish were undesirable species or too small), Pomadasys commersonnii (23%) was the most commonly targeted and retained species. The questionnaire survey indicated that anglers made an average of 38.7 fishing outings per year. Most participants in the fishery were employed in port-related industries and their annual expenditure in terms of bait, travel and equipment was considerable. They indicated that recreation was the primary motivation for their fishing trips and the high numbers of adult females and children recorded during the survey confirmed the importance of the harbour as a recreational asset for the community. Several considerations pertinent to continued sustainability of the fishery and management thereof are discussed.

Keywords: catch composition, estuaries, fi shing effort, management, Richards Bay

African Journal of Marine Science 2008, 30(1): 11–24

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X