African Journal of Marine Science

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Evidence of recovery of the linefishery in the Berg River Estuary, Western Cape, South Africa, subsequent to closure of commercial gillnetting

K Hutchings, BM Clark, LJ Atkinson, CG Attwood


A total of 248 roving creel surveys along the length of the Berg River Estuary, in the Western Cape, South Africa, recorded 626 shore-angler and 88 boat-angler outings over the period December 2002–November 2005. Catch-and-effort information was obtained from catch inspections with 360 handline and 246 rod-anglers. Average total annual linefishing effort was estimated at 449 ± 29 (mean ± SE) boat-angler days, 1 299 ± 118 recreational shore-angler days and 1 394 ± 57 subsistence (handline) shore-angler days. The estimated total shore-based linefish catch (excluding boat-based catches) from the estuary for the years 2004 and 2005 was 37 231 ± 1 326 fish and 26 938 ± 706 fish (approximately 8 t and 7 t) respectively. Compared with other estuaries along the South African east coast where angler catches have been surveyed, species diversity in catches from the cool-temperate Berg River Estuary was low, with only 15 species caught, of which three, elf Pomatomus saltatrix (56%), harder Liza richardsonii (31%) and carp Cyprinius carpio (11%), dominated the catch. Average linefish catch per unit effort of most species increased significantly in the two years subsequent to the closure of the long-existing commercial gillnet fishery in March 2003. Length frequency distributions revealed significant increases in the average size and an increased contribution of larger size class elf and harder to the linefish catch over the monitoring period, suggesting a degree of recovery of the estuarine icthyofauna after more than a century of intensive gillnet fishing.

Keywords: catch; effort; estuary; gillnets; linefishery; roving creel survey

African Journal of Marine Science 2008, 30(3): 507–517
AJOL African Journals Online