South Africa - FAO Area 47 and FAO Area 51
Sardines (Sardinops sagax) are a small, fast growing species that occupies an intermediate trophic level in the food chain, form large schools, and have shown large fluctuations in population size. Globally, it is well established that these species undergo decadal fluctuations and the populations of sardine and anchovy often fluctuate slightly out of sync with one another due to variability in environmental conditions as well as variability in phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance. This can complicate the management of the fishery. Off South Africa, sardine is mostly canned for human consumption, packed for bait, reduced to fishmeal and fish oil.
Sardines are caught using purse-seine nets which are set around a school of fish in the surface to mid-water. Once the school is surrounded, the bottom of the net is closed by a footrope.. This method is preferred for capturing commercially important fish species which aggregate close to the water’s surface. The fishing method is not destructive to the benthic habitat or species within the benthic habitat. Bycatch in the sardine fishery is normally limited to adult red eye, adult anchovy and some juvenile sardine are caught as bycatch in the sardine fishery (2% on average). This is mainly due to their dense schooling behaviour and the fishing methods employed. Small pelagic fish, such as sardine play an important mid-trophic level role in the food web in the Benguela Current System and as such they are important for the functioning of the ecosystem in the region.
South Africa’s Small Pelagic Fishery is managed through limitation on effort, through access rights and vessel licensing, through annual total allowable catches (TACs) as well as total allowable bycatches (TABs) for anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) and sardine (Sardinops sagax), and Precautionary Upper Catch limits (PUCLs) for red eye (Etrumeus whiteheadi) , combined lantern (Lampanyctodes hectoris) and light fish (Maurolicus muelleri)and cape horse mackerel ( Tr achurus capensis).The broad consensus amongst experts is that management procedures are largely effective; there are precauti onary limits in place which come into effect if the stock is perceived to be in trouble. Some progress has been made to further the understanding of the interactions between the small pelagic fishery and the endangered African Penguin.
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