Original Articles

Population dynamics and potential yield of three species of giant winkles in the Western Cape, South Africa


Of the southern African intertidal and shallow subtidal trochid and turbinid gastropods, Turbo sarmaticus, T. cidaris and Oxystele sinensis, are the most abundant large species, and therefore obvious targets for a winkle fishery. T. sarmaticus is harvested by recreational snorkel divers, and an application has been made for a permit to experimentally harvest the other two species commercially. This study involves four major aspects, namely morphometrics and flesh yield, shore-based abundance estimates, subtidal abundance estimates, and an estimate of the potential yield for each of the three species off the South-Western Cape, South Africa. Abundance and biomass of the winkles increased from west to east, highest densities being recorded in the low intertidal regions to 2 m depth. Low biomasses of the three species were recorded west of Cape Hangklip and are unlikely to support a fishery there. East of Cape Hangklip, invasion of rock lobsters Jasus lalandii has had a considerable impact on T. cidaris and O. sinensis populations. Consequently, a boat-based fishery with an estimated annual total allowable catch of 75.5 tons for T. cidaris, with a bycatch of 9.9 tons for O. sinensis, can only be considered in the easternmost fisheries-management area between Kleinbaai and Quoin Point. Because previous studies on the harvesting potential of T. sarmaticus off the Western Cape concluded that it was not commercially sustainable, a total allowable catch for that species was not considered. Management options deserving considerations before the commencement of a giant winkle fishery are discussed.

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