South African Journal of Science
On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
EDWARDS, Charles T.T. and PLAGANYI, Éva E.. Participatory assessment of the South African abalone resource and its impact on predicted population trajectories. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2008, vol.104, n.5-6, pp. 185-191. ISSN 1996-7489.
Illegal harvesting is a cause for concern in many of the world's fisheries. Over the last decade, the abalone resource in South Africa has come under severe fishing pressure, largely because of increased and unmitigated levels of poaching. The unquantified illegal exploitation of this resource is a major impediment to management, because understanding of abalone population dynamics is affected. Incorrect assessments of population abundance could lead to inadequate attempts by management to stem the decline. Here, population trends along the west coast of South Africa are investigated. A simple discrete-time logistic model was used to estimate parameters within a maximum likelihood statistical framework by fitting to available catch rate data. To address the problem of unknown levels of illegal catch, interview data were collected on non-commercial catch trends and the model was structured to allow this catch to be estimated during the fitting process. The results show that such a participatory approach to stock assessment can lead to an improved understanding of resource dynamics, illustrating the benefit this approach may have for management.