St Joseph shark

Callorhinchus capensis

Cape elephant fish, Elephant fish, St Joseph's shark

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?

St Joseph sharks (Callorhinchus capensis) are endemic, fast-growing, highly fertile cartilaginous fish that form large aggregations in nearshore nursery areas making them moderately vulnerable to fishing pressure. No stock assessments have been conducted. St Joseph sharks are caught as bycatch in the inshore trawl fishery for hake (MSC certified) and sole

. 2. How was it caught or farmed?

St Joseph sharks 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?

St Joseph sharks 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.


Fishing Type: Inshore demersal trawl

Origin: 🇿🇦South Africa

Trawl nets are dragged along the seabed up to 20 nautical miles from the coast or 110 metres deep, whichever is further. Demersal trawling is known to damage the seabed and is non-selective, resulting in the incidental bycatch of a number of species (fishes, sharks, rays and seabirds). Seabird bycatch has been reduced thanks to the introduction of tori lines, coloured streamers that deter birds.