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South Africa – The Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries’ decision to award an 8000 ton experimental horse mackerel permit for the 2016 season, ostensibly to conduct socio-economic research, has created controversy in the local fishing industry particularly as this decision went against the advice of the Demersal Scientific Working Group which recommended a five-ton sample survey of the resource.

Fishing Industry News Southern Africa explores the science of horse mackerel in greater depth in the August issue, but it is noteworthy that research vessel, Africana, recently returned from a 45-day experimental horse mackerel survey, the second time she has been to sea in more than two years. During this time she was laid up and refurbished which included renewing all electrical systems, dismantling the vessel’s three engines, reconditioning and reassembling them and then having to go through the procedure a second time when one engine caused further problems to correct spare part inconsistencies. Thereafter she was brought back into class and given the all clear to go to sea.

The area covered by the experimental horse mackerel survey was the entire shelf area between Mossel Bay and Port Alfred as far as the 1000m isobath. The survey consisted of 30 randomly selected demersal trawl blocks in areas where both demersal survey estimates of abundance and commercial midwater catches have indicated increased availability of horse mackerel.

Some of the objectives of the survey included, among others: estimation of the potential bias associated with bottom trawl swept-area estimates of horse mackerel abundance in Mossel Bay and Port Alfred; comparison of the population length structure of horse mackerel derived from midwater and bottom trawling between Mossel Bay and Port Alfred and the collection of high resolution multi-frequency acoustic data in conjunction with targeted midwater trawling on horse mackerel layers / targets for target identification studies.


The horse mackerel allocation is now before the courts.