COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PROJECTS
Marine shore-based angling (AKA Rock and Surf angling) is the most popular recreational angling facet in the South Africa. The Rock and Surf Super Pro League (RASSPL) is a franchised competitive angling league which has popularized a 100% catch-and-release format for the shore angling community. The RASSPL has over 56 competitions a year in which hundreds of anglers compete, and franchises from different provinces across the country compete year-round to qualify for the annual national competition. The SAFER Lab has worked closely with RASSPL for many years, in both scientific and participatory steads, to improve handling practices, amend rules and utilize competitions as a study platform for ongoing research in fish physiology, catch-and-release science and human dimensions in recreational angling.
As a result of public pressure on sponsors to only support sustainable angling competitions, more and more angling clubs are beginning to incorporate catch-and-release into their competitive formats. Bottom fishing is a very popular ski-boat-based angling facet in South Africa, but has faced much public scrutiny as catch-and-release techniques in this fishery are difficult and sometimes ineffective.
The Port Elizabeth Deep Sea Angling Club (PEDSAC) approached the SAFER Lab to assist them in developing a catch-and-release angling format for one of their annual species based competitions which takes place in Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth.
Fishtory is an exciting new collaboration between the South African fishing community, scientists and conservationists. Fishtory was founded, as part of the FishforLife project, to better understand historical declines in fish stocks and to inform ways of safeguarding our fishing heritage for the next generations to enjoy. South Africa has a long history of recreational fishing and yet anglers around the country have voiced their concerns that some of their favourite recreational species have become hard to find, and that typical trophy sizes have fallen.
But without any reference points, how can we really understand the extent of these changes?