Monkfish

(Lophius vomerinus)

Monk, Monkvis, Minkfish

1. What is it?

Monkfish (Lophius vomerinus) are migratory, relatively slow growing fish that are known for their unusual swimming style often using their pectoral fins to walk along the sea floor. Monkfish are caught as bycatch in the inshore and offshore trawl fishery for hake (MSC certified) and sole (inshore trawl only). Monkfish are currently being harvested at sustainable levels.

2. How was it caught or farmed?

Inshore demersal trawl

Monkfish 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.

Offshore demersal trawl

Monkfish are caught as bycatch using trawl nets that are dragged along the seabed at depths typically ranging from 110m to 800 m. Globally this type of trawling is known to damage the seabed. In South Africa, research is underway to better understand benthic impacts, recovery potential, and to mitigate damage. Trawling is also an unselective fishing method catching a number of different species including fish, sharks, rays, skates and even seabirds. Substantial effort has been made to reduce seabird deaths through the use of tori lines and work is underway to better understand any impact on ETP species.

3. Where is it from?

Inshore demersal trawl

Monkfish are caught as bycatch on the South Coast primarily on the Agulhas Bank. 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 a precautionary catch limit for monkfish 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. First assessment for monkfish caught in the inshore trawl fishery.

Offshore demersal trawl

Monkfish 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 measures are considered to be largely effective and mainly focused on the target species (hake) in the form of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and permit limitations. Additional measures in place include a precautionary catch limit for monkfish and fishing only in historical fishing ground. In 2016, a Fishery Conservation Project (FCP) between WWF-SA and the South African Deep Sea Trawl Industry Association (SADSTIA) was initiated to improve the management of key bycatch species.