SAIAB Features » Lake Gariep Fisheries Research Project

Carp is an alien invasive fish that is the major target species for subsistence and recreational anglers  Lake Gariep subsistence fisher; Lake Gariep subsistence fishers fishing off an island at low water level; two subsistence fishers using a number of homemade hand-lines.  Lake Gariep subsistence fisher; Lake Gariep subsistence fishers fishing off an island at low water level; two subsistence fishers using a number of homemade hand-lines.

Globally, alien invasive fishes are one of the main threats to biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems. In South Africa they are the primary threat. Alien fishes are, however, also used by subsistence fishers and recreational anglers. As a result, they provide food security in rural areas and contribute millions to the national economy.

In 2010, a 4-year research project funded by the NRF-focus area “Sustainable Livelihoods: the eradication of poverty” (FA2005021600012) was completed. The aim of this project was to guide decision making for the utilization of fish in South Africa’s largest inland water body, Lake Gariep.  Determining whom and how many people were involved in the fishery required a novel application of abundance models. Using this, it was demonstrated that more than half of the 86 ton annual catch was landed by some 550 subsistence fishers and that fishing was an important contributor to the food security in some 1000 households in the region. It could therefore be demonstrated that the Lake Gariep fishery can and does contribute significantly to livelihoods and food security in lakeshore communities. This information is essential in the development of an inland fisheries policy for South Africa because it exemplifies that there is already significant use of the resource by rural communities. In such cases commercial fisheries that may compete with, and concomitantly compromise the food security of these rural communities should therefore be developed with caution. It was also shown common carp, an alien invasive fish contributed more than 80% to the total catch from Lake Gariep.



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