Coastal linefish monitoring

Just before releasing a tagged white steenbras Fish tagging team Red roman
Tsitsikamma National Park A recaptured, tagged fish 082 TAG FISH

Marine Protected Areas (MPA) are gaining popularity as fisheries management tools for conserving fished species and important habitats. MPAs create safe havens where fish populations can survive and from which adjacent exploited areas can be replenished. This happens through ‘spillover’, the passive dispersal of larvae and emigration of juvenile and adult fish.

The aim of this research programme is to provide evidence of the benefits of area closure as a viable management tool. Monitoring fish populations in a well established no-take MPA such as the Tsitsikamma National Park (TNP) allows us to investigate the effects of fishery disturbances. Monitoring fish populations in newly proposed MPAs, such as the Greater Addo Elephant National Park, allows us to quantify stock recovery after fishery closure. Spillover is assessed through fish tagging.

Analysis of a decade’s data from the TNP has:

  • highlighted the importance of monitoring unexploited populations;
  • revealed natural variability, and the effects of protection and habitat quality on inshore fishery resources;
  • shed light on the movement behaviour of important fishery species;
  • highlighted the important role of MPAs in the conservation of marine biodiversity and fisheries management along the South African coast.