#WorldFisheriesDay: Spotlight on sustainable practices in SA
The event focused on small-scale fisheries and aquaculture under the Operation Phakisa initiative.
World Fisheries Day is celebrated annually on November 21 throughout the world by the fishing industry and fishing communities to highlight the importance of maintaining the world’s fisheries and their critical importance to communities and ecosystems.
The department announced at the event that fishing rights would be given to more than 70 small-scale fishers.
Craig Smith, the senior manager of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF’s) marine programme, said World Fisheries Day was celebrated “to acknowledge the importance of the fishing sector in contributing to international and national food security and the importance of sustaining jobs and local economies, and to recognise the need to ensure sustainable fishing practices are maintained so that these renewable marine resources can be exploited for generations to come”.
He said the South African fishing sector was estimated to be worth between R6 billion to R10bn annually and to directly employ 27 000 people.
Smith said overfishing was one of the challenges facing the industry.
“Overfishing reduces stocks to levels where the stock productivity is reduced and is therefore not able to sustain high fishing pressure.
“Rebuilding over-exploited fish stocks requires a reduction in fishing effort, sometimes over a lengthy period of time depending on the extent of overexploitation and the nature of the biology of the species.
“Most of South Africa’s commercial fish stocks are either optimally exploited or over-exploited. Some key species that are optimally exploited include deepsea hake, squid and South Coast rock lobster.
“Some key species that are over-exploited include West Coast rock lobster, abalone and sardine. West Coast rock lobster and abalone’s (diminished) stock status is exacerbated by high levels of illegal fishing.”
The WWF works with the government and the fishing industry to find innovative solutions to promote responsible fishing practices.
“The WWF and (conservation group) BirdLife SA were also instrumental in forming the Responsible Fisheries Alliance, a coalition of fishing companies working in a pre-competitive space towards adopting responsible fishing practices and ensuring the health of marine ecosystems,” said Smith.