CONSERVATION OF FISHES IN SOUTH AFRICA
It is estimated that 95 million tons of fishes are caught per year in South Africa (1). The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) declared that nine of the sixteen major fishing zones are overfishing (1). The removal of large amount of fish in the ocean disrupts the marine ecosystem in all levels and disturbs both physical and biological environment (1). The South African government stress the sustainable catches of fish as primary objective without considering the environment and the species which are not targeted. The primary objective of catching fishes has failed all around the world because of the decrease in the number of fish. As fish depend on other organisms in the marine ecosystem to maintain its productive capability, the survival of other organisms such as algae is not taken into consideration by managers (1). This will have negative impacts if the structure of the ecology and its process which supports the production stock is affected by overfishing.
Nearly all parts of the marine environments are affected by the human activities. People who are catching fishes are now targeting fishes which are found in deep sea compared to the off-shore fishing (2). Targeting of the fishes in the deep water is attributed to the fact that, fishes in the shallow water have been depleted. Natural refuges are now becoming scarce in the coastal environment because of the improvement of technology and the access of the human beings (1). Some of the human activities, exploitation, disturbance and pollution in the ecosystem are now reduced in the Proclamation of Marine protected areas (MPAs) (1). The main function of the MPAs is to preserve the representatives of the community of the species into its natural states (1). The MPAs help in the conservation of the marine species by providing sites which are not disturbed with monitoring, education, tourism and the research.
The management of catching fishes in South Africa remain that of the single species approach which often reduces the mortality which occurs accidentally and dumping (1). The method of fishing which is used in the catching of the fishes is known as bottom-trawl which is responsible in the high number of catches and fisheries in South Africa. These trawlers operate in the area of high diversity and this result in the catches of the unwanted species. It is fortunate that nowadays trawlers are equipped with excluders which reduce catching of the fishes which have some fins (1). Other trawlers for catching fishes have small sizes of meshes as to allow small species which are catched accidentally to escape (2).
1. Attwood, C. L. Moloney, C. L. Stenton-Dozey, J. Jackson, L. F. Heydorn, A. E. F. and Probyn, T. A. 2000. Marine biology. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 05]: Available: http://www.nrf.ac.za/publications/marinerep/conserve.htm
2. Van Der Elst, R. 2002. Harvesting nature’s bounty wisely: Serial overfishing depletes species. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 06]: Available from: http://www.scienceinafrica.co.za/2002/september/overfish.htm
3. Morris, R. 2006. Consultant warns on overfishing of hake. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 05]: Available from: http://www.busrep.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=561&fArticleId=3444466
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