Find Fisheries expertise in South Africa
- Overview of the industry
- Fishery bodies
While the sum of agriculture, forestry and fisheries contribute 3% to South Africa’s GDP, fisheries alone contributes about 0.5% (2008). The vast majority of what constitutes the South African fishing sector is offshore of the coastline which stretches over 3600km through two fairly different ecosystems; the west coast characterised by highly productive fisheries and the east coast by lower productivity, but a higher diversity of species. This extensive coastline and rich fishing waters creates nearly 17,000 primary sector jobs and 11,000 secondary sector jobs.
The main exports include fish fillets and lobster products but also crustaceans, tuna, skipjack, bonito, mackerel and octopus. Europe (and most notably Spain) is South Africa’s leading market for exported fisheries products. Other countries include the United States, Australia, China, Hong Kong and Japan with recent increases in exports to South East Asia.
Aquaculture in South Africa is largely marine based (mariculture). Recreational exploitation of freshwater fish on inland rivers and impoundments are fairly extensive, with small subsistence fisheries in places, but these do not account for any significant contribution to job creation or the GDP. Mariculture operations include the production of abalone, black mussel, oyster, prawn, finfish and seaweed with abalone the most important of these in terms of volume and employment. This is a fast developing sector and it is estimated that South Africa supplies 21% of the global market for farmed abalone.
The catch profile of offshore fisheries is largely hake, anchovy and sardine, mackerel, tuna and Patagonian tooth fish, shrimp and lobster. Hake is the most valuable South African fish, contributing approximately 50% of the value of fishery production. On the other hand, small pelagic is the largest fishery in terms of the total volume caught, the catch profile mainly sardine, anchovy, round herring, and horse mackerel.
In 1994, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, which has ultimate authority over all matters relating to fishing in South Africa, initiated the development of a national marine fisheries policy. This became official policy in 1998 and forms the basis of the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998. The main objective of the act is sustainable aquaculture development and fishing practices. South Africa also has a well-developed fisheries management system and is one of the leading countries in the implementation of an ecosystem approach for fisheries management. The programme aims to promote the equitable and sustainable management and efficient use of marine living resources. Important regulatory bodies include the Responsible Fisheries Alliance, which aims to support the implementation of an ecosystem-based approach to managing South Africa’s fisheries, as well as the South African Association of Importers and Exporters, which is a recognised industrial body that represents over 20 South African companies in the seafood trade including most of the major importers, exporters processors and traders. Key fishing companies in South Africa include I&J, Oceana, Sea Harvest and Viking.