Rachel Kramer

MSc candidate
Rachel Kramer


 

An evaluation of alternative management approaches for estuarine-dependent linefish species.

Estuaries are productive habitats and biologically important ecosystems as juvenile nursery areas and feeding grounds for adults from a host of fish species. However, they are also threatened habitats, exposed to increasing human disturbance and exploitation. The stocks of several South African estuarine-dependent linefish species are considered as either overexploited or collapsed, including four of the major targeted species, spotted grunter Pomadasys commersonnii, dusky kob Argysomus japonicus, white steenbras Lithognathus lithognathus and leervis Lichia amia. It is clear that their dependence on estuaries would warrant the inclusion of these ecosystems into marine planning exercises. Since traditional management strategies (e.g. bag and size limit restrictions) have proven ineffective for estuarine fisheries, there is a need for alternative management to ensure increased survival of juveniles and recovery of adult breeding populations. Alternative management strategies that contribute to integrated and effective management of estuaries through the sustainable utilization of fishery resources and/or strategic protection or exclusion of exploited areas would have merit for estuarine-dependent fishery species. This study investigates the potential effectiveness of a multi-criteria approach to setting conservation priorities and its applicability to the Sundays estuarine fishery. Sustainability offers a simpler means to evaluate a fishery than the more complex stock models which are often applied. This type of assessment provides multiple dimensions of the fishery and can be easily converted into a simple form which the general public can understand. Ultimately, this project will identify priority areas for conservation and will be used to develop and improve fisheries management strategies for these and other estuarine-dependent fishery species in South Africa. The project is funded by the South Africa/Norway Cooperation Programme (SANCOOP) and supported by SAIAB. An MSc bursary is provided by DAAD.

Supervisor: Prof Paul Cowley (SAIAB) Co-supervisor: Dr Amber Childs (Dept. Ichthyology and Fisheries Science, Rhodes University)