Geelbek

(Atractoscion aequidens)

Meagre, Cape salmon, Yellowmouth

1. What is it?

Geelbek (Atractoscion aequidens) are migratory, shoaling species that form spawning aggregations in the spring. They were targeted heavily by both commercial and recreational fishers throughout their distribution. Geelbek are targeted by the linefishery and caught as bycatch in the inshore trawl fishery for hake (MSC certified) and sole. A recent assessment estimated geelbek to be at 9, 94% of pre-exploitation levels. Stock is considered depleted.

2. How was it caught or farmed?

Linefishing

Geelbek are caught using the traditional rod-and-reel method of the linefish sector. Linefishing does not harm the surrounding habitat and bycatch of vulnerable, overfished or endangered species is minimal as this type of fishing methods is highly selective.

Inshore demersal trawl

Geelbek are caught as bycatch using trawl nets that are dragged along the seabed at depths up to the 110 m isobath or 20 nautical miles from the coast. This type of trawling is known to damage the seabed; however the extent and impact of damage remains unknown. Trawling is not a very selective fishing method and a number of other species are often caught in the nets (fish, sharks and rays). Substantial effort has been made to reduce seabird deaths through the use of tori lines (bird-scaring lines) and work is underway to better understand impacts on endangered, threatened or protected species.

3.Where is it from?

Linefishing

Geelbek are mainly caught from False Bay to southern Mozambique. Management for the sector is considered partly effective. In South Africa this sector is principally managed through a total allowable effort (TAE) limitation and there are additional restrictions to protect overfished species such as bag (2pp/pd) and minimum size (60cm) limits for recreational fishers. There is some concern over the impact of the small-scale fishery rights allocation beyond the recommended TAE and the continuously growing recreational sector.

Inshore demersal trawl

Geelbek are caught mainly on the Agulhas Bank off the South Coast. Management measures are considered to be largely effective and mainly focused on the target species (hake and sole) in the form of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and permit limitations. Additional measures in place include precautionary catch limits and fishing only in historical fishing grounds. More effort is required to improve at-sea scientific observation of fishing activities to better understand ecosystem impacts.