Crayfishing in South Africa

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Crayfishing in South Africa

Post  Bear on Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:47 pm

I came accross an intersting background article to recreational and commercial crayfish activity in SA. enjoy Shocked
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Re: Crayfishing in South Africa

Post  Bear on Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:49 pm

West Coast Rock Lobster

West coast rock lobster (Jasus lalandii) are slow-growing, long-lived animals. Female size at maturity varies and ranges from 57 millimetres carapace length (CL) to 66 millimetres CL. Male lobsters attain a larger size and grow faster than females. As a result of the size limit of 75 mm CL that is imposed on commercial fishers, male lobsters make up 90 to 99 percent of the catch. West Coast rock lobster occur inside the 200m depth contour from just north of Walvis Bay in Namibia to East London. Commercial exploitation occurs from about 25 S in Namibia to Gansbaai on the Cape south coast. However, recreational fishing extends further eastwards to Mossel Bay.

The current harvestable biomass is estimated at around eight percent of the pre-exploitation levels and spawning biomass at approximately 21 percent. This decline is largely a result of two effects: large unsustainable catches taken particularly during the first half of the 20th century and a substantial reduction in the somatic growth rate during the 1990's.

Commercial fishing began in the 1880's. The commercial fishery expanded rapidly in the early part of the 20th century. Although catch records prior to 1940 are sparse, catches appear to have peaked in the period 1950 to 1965, when between 13 000 and 16 000 tons were landed annually.

Prior to 1946, the commercial fishery was unregulated. In that year, a tail-mass production quota was imposed to control exports. This formed the basis of the "output-controlled" management philosophy that is still employed in the management of the west coast rock lobster resource today.

From 1946 onwards, annual quotas were granted, based primarily on the performance of the fishery in the preceding season. Until the mid-1960's, catches were directly controlled by these quotas. In the 1967/68 fishing season, catch rates began to decline and quotas could not be filled. Decreases in the Total Allowable Catch ("TAC") to between 4 000 and 6 000 tons restored some balance in the period 1970/71 to 1989/90.

The tail-mass production quota was replaced by a whole lobster (landed mass) quota, and management by means of a TAC was introduced in the early 1980's. Area or zonal allocations were introduced at the same time. Other management measures that were enforced early on were size limits and a closed season. Catches of berried or soft-shelled lobsters were banned. The 1990/91 season again saw the catch rates drop and, in the ensuing years, the commercial TAC was gradually reduced, reaching 1 500 tons in the 1995/96 season. Since then, there has been a slow recovery, with the commercial TAC being set at 3 527 tons for the 2004/2005 season.

Prior to the introduction of lobster traps in the 1960's, the commercial fishery depended almost exclusively on hand-hauled, hoopnets, which are light and easy to deploy from small boats in shallow waters. Hoopnets are seldom used at depths exceeding 30 metres. Hoopnet dinghies may either operate independently from the shore by means of an outboard motor or oars, or be transported to the fishing grounds by means of a motorized mother vessel (deckboat).

The west coast rock lobster fishery is made up of two distinct sectors: a commercial fishery and a recreational fishery. Recreational users may only fish using hoopnets from a boat or the shore, or practice breath-hold diving or poling from the shore. Recreational fishers may not sell their catch.

The WCRL (offshore) fishery is permitted to catch rock lobster in traps. In the medium-term rights allocation process, right-holders in this fishery were granted allocations of more than two tons each.

Right-holders in the WCRL (offshore) fishery use larger, more sophisticated vessels than right-holders in the WCRL (nearshore) fishery, which is restricted to using hoopnets in shallow water. The WCRL (offshore) fishery also employs larger numbers of crew.

The WCRL (nearshore) fishery replaced the subsistence fishery in 2001 in keeping with the recommendations of an independent review of subsistence fishing in South Africa. The review recommended that high-value subsistence fisheries such as west coast rock lobster, traditional linefish and abalone should be commercialised. The commercialisation of these fisheries has permitted fishers to sell and market their products.

The Department allocates 20 percent of the commercial west coast rock lobster TAC to the nearshore fishery and 80 percent to the offshore fishery. The reason for this split is that approximately 20 percent of the resource is located in the inshore region, while 80 percent is located offshore in deeper waters

West coast rock lobster fishing takes place between November and July. The annual value of west coast rock lobster catches is approximately R200 million. The west coast rock lobster fishery has been particularly well managed and, since 1997, it has seen steady increases in the total allowable catch. In 2003, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism declared a total allowable catch for the commercial harvesting of rock lobster in the area east of Cape Hangklip. The Department continues to manage this fishery in terms of precautionary management principles. Accordingly, the TAC for the 2005/2006 season has been
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Re: Crayfishing in South Africa

Post  Bear on Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:51 pm

Crayfish – Red Gold of West Coast
February 17, 2010

in News & Activities


West Coast crayfish takes pride of place at the top of South Africa’s most desirable seafood list. A far cry from the previous century when fishermen regarded them as pests to be tossed overboard when caught in their nets, only useful to be sold in wagon loads to farmers as fertilizer.

This internationally sought after gourmet delicacy occurs only in the waters off the south-western coast from north of Walvis Bay (Namibia) to East London on the east coast of South Africa. A slow growing crustacean, with male crayfish taking 7 to 10 years to attain a catchable size and females up to 20 years.

The species display some fascinating characteristics, such as making use of ocean currents to transport their young away from parent populations, only for the young to return several months later to resettle on “home territory”. These drifting, transparent miniatures of adult lobsters are capable of swimming long distances thereby returning to the area in which the parent stock lives.

Commercial Crayfish Industry


Fishing harbour on the West Coast
The lucrative West Coast rock lobster fishery is one of the country’s oldest fisheries, dating back to at least 1875, when the first commercial processing plant was established. Today crayfish factories are found all along the West Coast, especially in Saldanha, St Helena Bay, Elands Bay, Doring Bay and Lamberts Bay.

Jasus Ialandii is caught inshore by traps and hoop nets deployed from small vessels, and is also harvested by recreational divers.

During the 1990s, a decrease in growth rate, and insufficient numbers of juvenile lobsters in the population to sustain a healthy fishery in the immediate future, reduced total rock-lobster landings, with the total allowable catches down to about half that of the 1980s.

Currently the harvestable mass is estimated to be only some 5% of pre-exploitation levels. Despite this earlier significant depletion on the West Coast, the crayfish population has now stabilized, an improvement largely due to the implementation of crayfish fishing controls.

The commercial fishery for West Coast rock lobster is controlled by using combinations of total allowable catch quotas allocated for zones along the coast, a minimum size limit, closed seasons, daily bag limits and restricted fishing (08h00–16h00) during seasonal fishing days.
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Re: Crayfishing in South Africa

Post  Dieter on Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:29 am

Very interesting , Nice post man

Keep them coming

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Re: Crayfishing in South Africa

Post  Fishingtaylor01 on Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:34 am

If it takes 20yrs for a female to reach size, I think everyone should keep this in mind when diving. Rather let it go even if it doesn't have eggs!
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Re: Crayfishing in South Africa

Post  Bear on Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:15 pm

Thanks Dieter, will do
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