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An assessment of the recreational fishery in the St Lucia estuarine system, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Mann, B.Q., James, N.C. and Beckley, L.E. (2002) An assessment of the recreational fishery in the St Lucia estuarine system, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. South African Journal of Marine Science, 24 (1). pp. 263-279.

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St Lucia is one of the largest estuarine systems in Africa, and attracts thousands of anglers each year. Catch card data from the National Marine Linefish System for the years 1986-1999 were analysed to determine catch composition, catch per unit effort (cpue) and seasonality of catches by recreational anglers. Because not all anglers completed catch cards, estimates of total catch were made using additional data on the number of private boat outings, the number of boat trailers at boat slipways and the number of boats recorded entering the campsite gates during 1992 and 1993. In all, 27 fish families, constituting 55 species, were recorded by recreational anglers. Dusky kob Argyrosomus japonicus, spotted grunter Pomadasys commersonnii, perch Acanthopagrus berda, Natal stumpnose Rhabdosargus sarba, springer Elops machnata and mini-kob Johnius dorsalis were the most prominent species caught in terms of numbers and mass. Catch rates expressed numerically (fish angler-1 h-1) peaked during the summer and early winter. However, in terms of mass, catch rates peaked during late winter and spring, when there were increased landings of large dusky kob. Fluctuations in cpue were linked to salinity and estuary mouth conditions (i.e. mouth closure). Despite annual fluctuations in cpue, regression analysis revealed an overall downward trend for the dominant species (dusky kob and spotted grunter) and a gradual increase for stumpnose, perch and springer, but with the exception of stumpnose, these trends were not significant. Socio-economic aspects of the fishery were also investigated by conducting an independent boat-angler survey. The value of the recreational fishery, in terms of accommodation and direct angler expenditure, was estimated to be in the region of R9 million during 1992. Angler attitudes towards fishing regulations were positive and anglers generally had a good knowledge of the regulations for target species. Based on this assessment, a number of suggestions are made regarding the future management of the recreational fishery at St Lucia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Sea Fisheries Research Institute
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