Important fishing areas: spatial management in an increasingly crowded ocean

South Africa’s marine environment supports thousands of jobs, contributes billions of rands to the economy, and fishery harvests provide food security to many thousands of South Africans. Our rich biodiversity also draws thousands of tourists to the country, also contributing to the economy. But the pressure is increasing to derive more services and benefits from our oceans. Activities such as...

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Assessing the Impact of Seismic Surveys on South African Fisheries

In 2016, the Responsible Fisheries Alliance contracted Namibian fisheries consultant, William David Russell, to conduct a desktop study to assess the impact of seismic surveys on South African fisheries. This study was concluded in April 2018 and it is hoped that the findings of the report, will act as a resource for strategic discussions going forward with the seismic exploration industry,...

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Monitoring of Endangered, Threatened and Protected (ETP) species landed in five major South African fisheries

In 2014, the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) commissioned the University of Cape Town (UCT) to identify significant endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species caught, mostly as bycatch, in five major South African commercial fisheries. These include the hake inshore trawl, the hake offshore trawl, the hake longline, the horse mackerel midwater trawl, and the tuna and swordfish...

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Responsible Fisheries Alliance Review (2009 – 2017)

In the last eight years, the RFA has been successfully advocating for responsible fisheries practices among the commercial fishing sector across South Africa.  Since 2009, significant progress has been made on bycatch mitigation; the reduction of seabird mortalities; empowering fishers and tackling issues that could potentially affect responsible fishing practices and the well-being of the...

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Cost-Effective fish survey tool detect African Penguin prey

Fish surveys can potentially play an important role in the survival rate of the endangered African penguin. A cost effective tool has been developed to detect their prey, say researchers. This can provide information to inform fishing management decisions affecting these endemic birds.The African penguin – the only penguin species breeding on the African continent – is classified as...

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Informing effective policies for responsible fisheries in South Africa

In March 2014 the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) agreed to support a project proposal presented by Dr Kevern Cochrane of Rhodes University, seeking to assess how better to reflect an ecosystems approach to fisheries management (EAF) within the key legal instruments that set the ambit for the management the of fisheries sector. The following recommendations were provided by the...

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Improving WWF-SASSI sustainability rating of key non-targeted species from the hake offshore trawl sector

A RFA-funded, in-depth study of the most common bycatch species landed by the deep-sea trawling industry has resulted in a three year collaboration, in the form of a signed Fisheries Conservation Project (FCP), between the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA) and WWF-SA. The collaboration will dramatically improve the data collection for, and the management of, bycatch...

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Establishing a technical team for the analyses of African penguin-related data

The Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) has maintained a strong interest in the wellbeing of African Penguins providing funding and support for a number of penguin biologists and population modellers who are working to untangle the complex interactions between penguins, the fish they eat and the impacts of fishing. In 2015, the RFA provided funding to the Marine Resource Assessment and...

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A decade of the Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries in South Africa, 2005-2015

The month of August in 2015 marked the 10th year since the implementation of an Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries (EAF). The South African Research Chair in Marine Ecology & Fisheries, WWF-South Africa and the Responsible Fisheries Alliance hosted a workshop to review the progress made on implementing the EAF and identified areas to be improved. Four key themes were looked into; fisheries...

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Lobbying for a moratorium on marine phosphate mining

In collaboration with WWF-SA, the RFA funded the development of a strategy to tackle the harmful practice of bulk marine sediment mining of the ocean floor. The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) is implementing the strategy and has established the Safeguard our Seabed Coalition (SOSC).                       SOSC believes that a moratorium...

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Benchmarking South Africa’s fisheries – Global comparisons of sustainability and management

Ever wondered how the sustainability of South African fisheries fair against international fisheries? The Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) implemented a project to look into exactly this. Five major South African fisheries were compared to three international fisheries per sector (representing in each case the largest global fishery, a Marine Stewardship Certification (MSC) certified fishery...

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Establishing an electronic data management model

  The methods used to collect and capture data from South African fisheries are often inefficient and make it difficult for fisheries managers to use data effectively. The current data collection process, whereby logbooks are manually completed and physically handed over to data capturers in DAFF is laborious, slow and susceptible to error. More importantly, the analysis of raw data is often...

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Changing the way we think about fishing and African Penguins: the African Penguin Blue Sky Workshop

African Penguin numbers have rapidly decreased over the past 50 years, and the rate has accelerated over the last decade. Reasons for this decrease in numbers include lack of prey, predation by seals and sharks, and oil spills. Although lots of research have been conducted since 2008 on the impact of the small pelagic fishery on the reduced availability of prey through the island closure...

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Understanding penguin dynamics in Algoa Bay

The African penguin – the only penguin species breeding on the African continent – is classified as endangered because it is undergoing a very rapid population decline. The numbers of these endemic penguins (Spheniscus demersus) have decreased drastically over the last few decades, with a massive 70% decline of this iconic species in the past ten years. This trend currently shows no sign...

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Fisheries Code of Conduct promotes responsible practice

A Code of Conduct for responsible fisheries in South African waters has been developed through a project commissioned by the RFA.  The RFA collaborated with independent consultants Capricorn Fisheries Monitoring (CapFish) on a project to develop a Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in South Africa. This innovative Code of Conduct was developed to provide a guideline to steer the fishing...

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Co-management the way forward for inshore trawl bycatch

A new bycatch co-management programme for the inshore trawl fishery will be piloted this year. The sustainable harvesting of bycatch species has long been an interest of the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA). A previous RFA project, in collaboration with Associate Professor Colin Attwood from UCT’s Marine Research Institute determined the range of species caught in the inshore trawl...

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Environmental awareness training posters

Tackling environmental concerns requires change at every level and creative ideas can help bring about behavioural change. This was the stance taken by the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) when formalising a partnership with Strika Entertainment aimed at creating awareness about environmental...

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Rory Line: A silver lining for seabirds

Global seabird populations have experienced a recent decline, largely attributed to the incidental mortalities caused by commercial fishing operations. Scavenging birds, including many endangered albatross species are fatally attracted to fishing vessels. The recent implementation of Tori Lines has reduced seabird mortalities by up to 90%, however there are still a large number of seabirds that...

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How much energy do African penguins extract from the sea?

African penguins are severely under threat and are now considered Endangered by the World Conservation Union. Their populations have decreased by over 90% since the turn of the last century, initially as a result of egg collecting and guano scraping but more recently as a result of competition between man and penguins for a source of food – sardines and anchovies. The Responsible Fisheries...

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Potential bycatch mitigation measures: inshore trawl fishery

The inshore trawl fishery of the Cape South coast targets shallow-water hake and sole. Total allowable catches are set for these species, and permit holders hold quotas for one or both species. However, inshore trawlers catch a wide variety of species. An initial study conducted by the University of Cape Town and WWF indicates that the inshore trawl takes a substantial catch of non-target and...

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Developing Bird Mitigation Plans to reduce seabird mortality

Albatrosses are amongst the most endangered group of animals on the planet with 18 of 21 albatrosses threatened with extinction, partly as a result of their interactions with fishing gear. A proactive study conducted by the hake trawl fishery concluded that approximately 18 000 birds were killed per year. The industry responded swiftly and implemented the mandatory use of Tori Lines. Through the...

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Responsible Fisheries Training Programme

  For responsibly managed fisheries, it is important to understand the dynamics of individual populations and the ecosystem as a whole. It is equally important to have appropriate policies and regulations in place which incorporate all aspects of an ecosystem approach. However, the fact that this is a necessary but not a sufficient condition is apparent. If the people on the ground like the...

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Review of the observer programme and observer data: 2002-2009

  Data collection on fishing practices, catches and methods is necessary for the successful management of fisheries worldwide. There are various sources of data, such as skipper’s logbooks and independent surveys which can be used collectively to make management decisions. Even so, some vital information is often missing, for example discards and actual fishing practices. To overcome this...

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Who we are

The Responsible Fisheries Alliance is a partnership of like-minded organisations working together to ensure that healthy marine ecosystems underpin a robust seafood industry in southern Africa. Formed in 2009, the Alliance members continue to contribute resources and time towards the sharing of information, expertise and competencies to positively effect responsible fishing while influencing policy and fishery governance.

Latest News

Meet Dr Theressa Frantz, the RFA’s new Chairperson

Meet Dr Theressa Frantz, the RFA’s new Chairperson

With the signing of an agreement for another two-year term of operating by the Responsible Fisheries Alliance, member organisations appointed seasoned fisheries biologist and head of WWF South Africa’s Environmental Programmes Unit, Dr Theressa Frantz, as the new RFA Chairperson. Dr Frantz says her focus will be on ensuring that the RFA continues to play a leading role in implementing the...

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Sea Harvest and Viking Fishing Group enter into purchase agreement

Sea Harvest and Viking Fishing Group enter into purchase agreement

In July 2018, a black economic empowerment (BEE) consortium led by one of the RFA’s founding members, Sea Harvest, acquired 100% of the fishing business of Viking Fishing Holdings Proprietary Limited (Viking). The purchase, which covers all of Viking’s fishing businesses, including its vessels, property, fishing rights, factories and a share ownership of Viking Aquaculture, was approved by...

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RFA and DAFF partner to introduce electronic logbook

A very exciting project is underway involving a review of the current Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) demersal catch systems to incorporate the use of electronic logbooks. This project seeks to streamline the capture of fisheries data used to assist and inform stock assessments for key marine species in South Africa. This is a preview of RFA and DAFF partner to introduce...

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