70 years of helping people to care for our ocean

Fishy Friday – Seventy-four

Today is National Endangered Species Day

The seventy-four is a beautiful reef fish belonging to the family Sparidae and is endemic to the deep reefs along the south-east coast of South Africa. Named after the old English sailing vessels with seventy-four canon ports, this remarkable fish once made up nearly 70% of the linefish catch in KZN.

The species was heavily targeted on spawning aggregations during spring on the southern KZN coast throughout the 20th Century. Catches on lineboats operating out of Durban Harbour in the early 1900s recorded over 1000 tons of seventy-four per year whereas by the early 1990s catches had plummeted to less than two tons per year. The seventy-four had been fished to “economic extinction” (i.e. there were too few fish left to make it economically viable to go and fish for them).

Research by ORI scientists showed that the number of breeding adults had been reduced to less than 5% of their original numbers. Based on this evidence, and the fact that catches had declined by more than 90% throughout its distribution, a moratorium was placed on the catching of seventy-four in 1998 to allow stock rebuilding to take place.

Today, there are some very positive signs that things are beginning to change. The abundance of juvenile seventy-four in their traditional nursery grounds is increasing. Furthermore, the increased size of seventy-four on KZN reefs means that there will be more mature fish contributing ever greater numbers of eggs. This proves that, with the support of legislation and the compliance of user groups, prompted by good science and dedicated individuals, a species of fish can recover.

To view the downloadable Endangered Species Infographic, click the link : http://www.saambr.org.za/…/05/Endangered-species-day-1.pdf

To view the downloadable Seventy Four Fact Sheet, click the link : http://www.saambr.org.za/…/ORI-Fish-Fact-Seventy-Four…