Value and management of the subsistence fishery at Knysna Estuary, South Africa
AbstractKnysna Estuary supports an estimated 30 full-time and 200 part-time subsistence fishers involved in bait collection, mud crab harvesting, and fishing. The mud prawn Upogebia africana dominates the bait-fishery, with estimated catches amounting to about 3% of the standing stock, suggesting sustainable use. Harvest of Marphysa spp. and Gorgonorhynchus dayi is conducted in a destructive manner. Most of the value of fishing lies in the setline catches of spotted grunter Pomadasys commersonnii and white steenbras Lithognathus lithognathus, whereas small species and individuals, particularly Cape stumpnose Rhabdosargus holubi, are also caught with handlines. Indications are that the linefishery is also sustainable at present. The subsistence fishery is worth an estimated R0.7–R1.1 million per annum, with full-time fishers earning at least R11 000–R17 000 per annum from the estuary. Currently operating under recreational regulations, the fishery is poorly controlled and fails to reach its full potential. The main threat to the estuary from damaging harvests of bait species, such as Marphysa spp. and G. dayi, should be discouraged through heavy penalisation of buyers and traders. Sales of mud prawn could probably be legalised. If off-take rates are found to be sustainable, sales of certain fish species could be legalised if access to the fishery could be effectively controlled under a co-management arrangement.
Keywords: bait collection; co-management; fishing; subsistence
African Journal of Marine Science 2009, 31(3): 297–310