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Namibian Fisheries

on 11 February, 2013

Despite important progress made over the past ten years in restoring and improving the state of South Africa’s marine resources, significant challenges remain. According to a new report by WWF-SA, many of South Africa’s inshore marine resources are still considered overexploited or collapsed.

Titled WWF Fisheries: Facts and Trends South Africa, the report provides an overview of the status of the local fishing sector and the marine environment in which it operates. In highlighting some of the key areas of concern, the report paints a clear picture of the precarious state in which we find ourselves. It also emphasizes the importance of WWF-SA’s drive to promote an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF); the state of all marine organisms and interconnected processes are considered when fishing decisions are being made.

Globally, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates that approximately 85% of the world's fish stocks are either overexploited or exploited to their maximum. The WWF Fisheries: Facts and Trends South Africa report suggests that we are in a relatively similar position, with almost 50% of our marine resources fully exploited. A further 15% of marine resources are overexploited, including important commercial species such as West coast rock lobster and Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna populations. Of equal concern is the number of species in which the current stock status is uncertain.

The long-term success of South Africa’s fishing industry and coastal fishing communities is inextricably linked to our ability to implement sustainable solutions to these challenges through responsible and collaborative management. In the past, fisheries were managed under a single species approach, which failed to incorporate the effect of fishing activities on non-target components of marine ecosystems. This strategy has failed us. “Today there is a growing understanding of the need to implement a holistic approach to environmental management if we are to meet man’s growing demands on our marine ecosystem, this is clearly one of the key challenges of the 21st century,” concludes Du Plessis.