African Journal of Marine Science

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The artisanal fishery for East Coast rock lobsters Panulirus homarus along the Wild Coast, South Africa

E Steyn, PJ Fielding, MH Schleyer


East coast rock lobsters Panulirus homarus are collected by the indigenous people of the Wild Coast, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, and are sold to coastal hotels and holidaymakers. The South African government has proposed a small-scale commercial fishery based on P. homarus to improve socio-economic conditions in that region. Catch data and information on fishery operations were collected for the artisanal fishery from Coffee Bay, Presley Bay, Port St Johns and Mbotyi, as well as from a commercial buying station near the Mdumbi Estuary, between March 2003 and October 2005. The catch per unit effort of rock lobster poling varied from 13.5 ± 7.7 fisher–1 outing–1 at Port St Johns to 5.9 ± 3.1 fisher–1 outing–1 at Coffee Bay, but the number of fishers or fishing frequency could not be verified. About two-thirds of the lobsters caught (69%) were smaller than the minimum legal size. Hotels and the buying station complied with size limits, but cottages and campers often bought undersized lobsters. Smaller lobsters (females) are caught by poling than by diving. Geographical variations in poling effort and lobster mean sizes could be indicators of heavy fishing pressure on shallow, inshore reefs. The implications of commercialising the fishery and its associated management are discussed.

Keywords: artisanal fishery; catch-and-effort survey; fishery management; Panulirus homarus; Wild Coast

African Journal of Marine Science 2008, 30(3): 497–506
AJOL African Journals Online