South African Marine Fisheries and Abandoned, Lost and Discarded Fishing Gear

Randall P (2020) South African Marine Fisheries and Abandoned, Lost and Discarded Fishing Gear

The objective of the following report is to examine the fisheries sectors of South Africa in relation to marine litter, specifically the likelihood for litter from fishing to become Abandoned, Lost and Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) with the potential to ghost fish. The report depicts the major fisheries sectors of South Africa describing bottom and midwater trawling, both demersal and pelagic long-lining, pole fishing for tuna, traditional line fishing, trap and pot fishing, seining and fishing with gillnets. The report defines ALDFG, the potential impacts of ALDFG and the reasons for ALDFG. Methods for reducing ALDFG are described from a global perspective. Replicating the global risk analysis presented by the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) and applying that analysis to the various fishing sectors of South Africa, suggests that the fishing sector with the greatest risk of ALDFG is the gillnet sector, the second highest risk is in the sectors of West Coast rock lobster (trap only, not hoopnet), South Coast rock lobster and the exploratory octopus trap fishery. The remaining fisheries have a low risk of creating ALDFG. A more detailed examination of the potential for ALDFG within the fisheries of South Africa suggests there is some inevitable minor gear loss, and most lost gear does not remain active for long. The expense of fishing gear encourages owners to attempt retrieval. Plus, any significant gear loss must be reported to the the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) as a condition of the permit to fish. There is some degree of voluntary gear marking, but gear marking is not a requirement of the fishing permit in most South African fisheries. Also, there is some education and awareness for the industry. Some sectors haveing a best practice or code of conduct, while the sectors were ALDFG may be more likely have mitigation measures in place. Certain South African fish processing plants are reutilizing numerous waste materials including fishing equipment; that are either repaired or sold to a third party for recycling. Although in general the fisheries of South Africa seem well managed, there is room for improvement. Recommendations to improve tackling ALDFG in South Africa are proposed: making gear marking a requirement of the permit to fish would assist in the identification of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing gear, (IUU is a particular problem in South African waters); modifying port state measures to include the inspection of fishing gear to aid identification of IUU; provision of appropriate low cost collection facilities for unwanted fishing gear to discourage discarding unwanted gear at sea; encourage owners/operators of fishing gear to make every reasonable effort to retrieve ALDFG; and finally encourage the use of appropriate biodegradable material, escape mechanisms, or passive deterrents to reduce the time that lost fishing gear remains active.