The goal of this project is to develop an understanding of the drivers of spatial distribution of fishing pressure around the coast, so as to inform strategies for the recovery and sustainable management of threatened fishery resources.
Inshore fish resources around the South African coast have been severely depleted by recreational, subsistence and commercial fisheries. The reason for this is that most of the targeted species are K-selected species that are slow-growing and vulnerable to pressure, and this is compounded by the open access or quasi-open access nature of the fisheries. Marine protected areas have been established in South Africa, but the MPA network is not yet considered adequate protection for these stocks and needs to be expanded. Indeed some studies claim that MPAs merely result in a redistribution of fishing effort outside of MPAs. Recreational anglers constitute one of the main threats to vulnerable line fish stocks. It is hypothesized that catch-oriented recreational fishers concerned have a high WTP for higher catches and their distribution is correlated with CPUE, whereas activity-oriented anglers are mainly influenced by accessibility and costs and their distribution is correlated with accessibility in relation to major population centres. We also predict that in a situation of decreasing CPUE, the former will leave first, while the latter will deplete the stocks to dangerously low levels. Similar sorts of predictions could be made about subsistence and commercial fishers, based on factors such as the opportunity cost of time and the element of maintaining tradition and irrational optimism. It is our tenet that fisher behavior is a function of several interacting factors such as catch per unit effort, travel cost, ease of access, permit price, enjoyment of fishing, and income and that understanding of these relationships in relation to source population locational variables can be used to develop strategic interventions. A simple model will be developed to explore the implications of varying factors that influence recreational angler behavior and their response to a range of management measures. Some of the predictions will be tested using recent and 15-year old data sets of anglers and angling efforts around the South African coastline. It is anticipated that it will be extendable to other types of fisheries and other country settings in southern and eastern Africa in future. Strategic interventions might include siting of MPAs in relation to different types of population centres, control of access points to the coast outside MPAs, and changing the way in which fishing effort is regulated, depending on the primary motivations of fishers.