Original Articles

Recommendations for the management of subsistence fisheries in South Africa


This paper summarizes recommendations for the management of previously marginalized and neglected subsistence fisheries in South Africa. The recommendations stem from the activities and analyses of a task group appointed by Government and mandated to provide advice about management of the new fishing sector. The following focus areas were identified for attention: planning for implementation; definitions of subsistence fishers and other sectors; assessment and categorization of resources; determination of types of fishing activities; zonation; management systems; training; communication mechanisms; application and allocation procedures; compliance processes; research and monitoring; development of institutional capacity. Subsistence fishers were defined as poor people who personally harvest marine resources as a source of food or to sell them to meet basic needs of food security; they operate on or near to the shore or in estuaries, live in close proximity to the resource, consume or sell the resources locally, use low-technology gear (often as part of a long-standing community-based or cultural practice), and the resources they harvest generate only sufficient returns to meet basic needs of food security. A second group of informal fishers was identified that fishes for profit but cannot be equated to large industrial fisheries, and a new sector was proposed to accommodate these artisanal "small-scale commercial" fishers. Resources were classified for use by these different sectors based on accessibility, fishing methods, cash value and sustainability. In all, 12 different categories of subsistence and small-scale commercial fisheries were identified, and a preliminary list of resource species suitable for different fishing sectors is presented. A multi-tiered institutional management structure is recommended, with the national agency (MCM) controlling issues of national concern, and supporting and coordinating the activities of provincial and local structures. The management agents required for effective implementation were identified and include a dedicated national Subsistence Fisheries Management Unit, provincial management agencies that have the capacity to be delegated authority, Regional Fieldworkers, an independent Advisory Group for Subsistence Fisheries Management, local co-management structures, and community monitors responsible for observing and recording fishing activities and catches. Co-management, involving both authorities and users in joint management, is advocated in preference to previous top-down approaches, because of its potential to improve communication and compliance.

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