Snoek

(Thyrsites atun)

Barracouta, Cape snoek, Kaapse snoek

1. What is it?

Snoek (Thyrsites atun) are relatively fast growing, schooling fish. Snoek are caught as bycatch in offshore demersal trawl fishery. A stock assessment was conducted in 2017. The results indicated that the stock is being optimally fished and not undergoing overfishing.

2. How was it caught or farmed?

Linefishery

Snoek are caught using the traditional rod-and-reel method of the linefish sector. Linefishing is a relatively selective fishing method which targets a large number of species many of which are reef-associated but also includes a few pelagic species. When targeting pelagic linefish species, like snoek, the linefishery is not likely to cause significant damage to overfished, vulnerable or ETP species, which are nearly all reef-associated. The reverse is true when targeting for reef-associated linefish species. The fishery has few discards and there are very few “non-target” species landed in the sector.

Offshore demersal trawl Snoek 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.

Imported – Bottom trawl

Snoek are caught using bottom trawl nets. These nets are dragged near the sea floor at various depths. This type of fishing is known to cause damage to the surrounding habitats and bycatch of many vulnerable species including birds, sharks and other fish species is an issue. The fishery was recently MSC certified.

3. Where is it from?

Linefishery

Snoek are caught within the inshore zone along most of the South African coastline mainly from the Namibian border to Algoa Bay on small skiboats. 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 (10 pp/pd) and minimum size (60 cm) 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.

Offshore demersal trawl

Snoek 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. Imported - Bottom trawl

Snoek is caught along the coast of New Zealand and imported to South Africa. Management considered partly effective through a total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) limit, no go zones for bottom trawling vessels and a no discard rule for targeted or bycatch snoek species.