Cape Gurnard

(Chelidonichthys spp.)

Gurnard

WWF-SA recognition of the ET Project as an FCP for the inshore trawl fishery is temporarily on hold until there is agreement between rights holders in the sector on the continued implementation of the ET Project.

1. What is it?

Gurnards (Chelidonichthys sp) are long lived, endemic fish found on sandy or silty bottoms at depths from 10 m to 390 m. They are one of the most commonly caught bycatch species in both the inshore and offshore trawl sectors, however, they seem resilient to fishing pressure and stocks are currently believed to be under-exploited.

2. How was it caught or farmed?

Inshore demersal trawl

Gurnards are caught as bycatch in inshore trawl fishery for hake (MSC certified) and sole using trawl nets. The fishery gear consists of trawl nets that are dragged along the seabed at depths in the area from the coast to the 110 m isobath or to 20 nautical miles from the coast, whichever is the greater distance. Demersal trawling is known to damage the seabed; the extent and impact of this damage remains unknown. Trawling is not a 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 and substantial effort is underway to better manage the principal bycatch stocks through a co-management pilot programme.

Offshore demersal trawl

Gurnards are caught as bycatch within the within the offshore demersal trawl industry for hake using trawl nets that are dragged along the seabed at depths typically ranging from 110 m to 800 m (known as “demersal trawl nets”). The fishery gear consists of trawl nets that are dragged along the seabed at depths typically ranging from 110 m to 800 m. This type of trawling is known to damage the seabed; the extent and impact of damage remains unknown. There are efforts underway to better understand benthic impacts, recovery potential, and to mitigate damage. Trawling is not a 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 and s research is underway to understand the impacts on key bycatch species.

3. Where is it from?

Inshore demersal trawl

Gurnards are caught between Cape Agulhas and the Great Kei River at depth shallower that 110m. Management is considered to be largely effective. Management is mainly directed at the target species hake (MSC certified) and sole in the form of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and permit limitations. A fishery conservation project (FCP) was developed to test a co-management approach for 10 non-target species in the sector. Other concerns include the lack of information on impacts to sensitive shark, skates and ray populations as well as impacts to the seabed. Efforts are underway to improve the scientific observer coverage at sea for this sector to better understand ecosystem impacts.

Offshore demersal trawl

Gurnards are caught as bycatch on the continental shelf edge and upper slope along the West Coast from the Namibian border southwards and on the South Coast primarily around the Agulhas Bank. Management is mainly focused on the target species (hake) in the form of Total Allowable Catch (TAC), effort limitation and various permit conditions. There are some ecosystem-based management measures already in place such as precautionary catch limits on monkfish and kingklip and limited fishing areas.The ongoing Fishery Conservation Project (FCP) aims to improve the management of the main bycatch species as well as address any potential impacts on sharks, rays and other sensitive marine species.