What do recreational fishermen in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa really think?
By: Bruce Mann, Judy Mann-Lang
Recreational fishing is a popular pastime in South Africa and it is estimated that over 1.3 million South Africans go fishing for fun. While each fisherman may only return home with a modest catch, collectively their impact on fish populations can be considerable. While a great deal of research has, in the past, been focussed on the biology and stock assessment of the fish populations, it is clear that without a better understanding of the fishermen themselves, effective management of this fishery is not possible. Appropriate social aspects including knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of recreational fishermen is needed.
Scientists in the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) in Durban, South Africa initiated a project to complement existing recreational fisheries research, through the analysis of demographic and psychographic angler attributes collected from two independent, shore-based snap-shot monitoring surveys conducted on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) coastline between 1994-1996 and 2009-2010 respectively.
Results showed that there were significant changes in the demographics of anglers (including ethnic composition, age distribution, years of fishing experience and employment status) participating in the KZN shore-based linefishery between the two surveys. Traditional management regulations (minimum size limits, daily bag limits and closed seasons), whilst appearing to have support, have had limited effectiveness, based on the increased levels of admitted non-compliance and poor knowledge of regulations for target species. Anglers in both surveys believed that catches had declined over the years, with overfishing being the most common reason given.
As management of the recreational fishery in KZN has changed dramatically over the past few years, the results of this study provide an important baseline from which to assess the impact of these changes. The paper discusses the very serious implications of these changes for both fish populations and the people who rely on them and makes suggestions on how to improve management going forward.