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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 un-managed fish species.

There is strong concern about the sustainability, ecosystem-impact and wastage associated with these catches. To address this concern the Responsible Fisheries Alliance commissioned a project to consider various management options. The project used the available information to map the distribution of important bycatch species. Stock assessments on the rarer species was not possible, for lack of sufficient data. Instead the project used information on the biology of each species to rank them in terms of vulnerability, using tested protocols.

The objective of the analysis was to identify and assess new management options for the fishery. These included closure of part of the fishing ground to trawling, possible temporal regulation, and the setting of quotas for certain species besides shallow-water hake and east-coast sole. A spatial analysis was also done to identify areas for closure that will reduce the catch on less productive bycatch species, without impacting on productive hake and sole areas.

This project has now been completed and the RFA put a workplan together which was then presented to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Demersal Scientific Working Group. This group using the  workplan to work towards the development of a management plan for the bycatch in the inshore trawl fishery.

Click on the attachment below to view the discussion papers culminating from this project.