Reliability of community-based data monitoring in the Olifants River estuary (South Africa)
UCT University of Cape Town, Environmental Evaluation Unit (EEU), South Africa; UEG State University of Goiás, UEG/UnUCET, Laboratory of Ecological Research and Public Science, Brazil; Av. Dona Elvira 150/904-B, Santa Maria de Nazare, Anapolis/GO, CEP 75.113-360, Brazil
The promulgation of new fisheries policies and laws in South Africa in the late 1990s has provided opportunities for historically disadvantaged communities to access resources that were unequally distributed in the past. The Marine Living Resources Act of 1998, is one such piece of legislation that aims to create more equitable access to marine resources. However, research suggests that post-apartheid policy and legal reform in the fisheries sector have neglected artisanal fishers. This sector is still restricted in their access to fisheries resources, and their input into management, particularly with regard to their role as partners in the assessment, monitoring and management of resources, has been largely overlooked. In this paper, the analysis of information generated by a community-based monitoring program in a gillnet fishery on the Olifants River (Western Cape, South Africa) confirms the value of involving local fishers in the collection and analysis of data related to their fishing activities. Results demonstrated that: (1) Fisheries data collected by community-based monitors are reliable and can make a useful contribution to management decisions; (2) 63% of the target species captured are mature fish and the resource appears to be sustainably exploited; and (3) the incidental catch is negligible. Furthermore, the results provide useful information that might influence government policy proposals to implement a total ban on gillnetting in all South African estuaries. © 2008.