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Koedoe

On-line version ISSN 2071-0771

Abstract

VENTER, J.A.  and  MANN, B.Q.. Preliminary assessment of surf-zone and estuarine line-fish species of the Dwesa-Cwebe Marine Protected Area, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Koedoe [online]. 2012, vol.54, n.1, pp. 19-29. ISSN 2071-0771.

A preliminary assessment of surf-zone and estuarine line fish was carried out in the Dwesa-Cwebe Marine Protected Area (MPA), on the Wild Coast, South Africa. The purpose was to provide baseline data on inshore line-fish stocks in the MPA. A total of 28 species was recorded, of which 53% have a conservation status reflecting some concern and 43% are endemic to southern Africa. This highlights the value of the MPA for protection of important line-fish species. Within the MPA, localised differences were detected in species diversity, size frequency and catch per unit effort between unexploited and illegally exploited areas. These differences were more prominent in slow growing, long-lived species. It thus appears that illegal exploitation is negatively affecting fish populations within the MPA, which counteract and potentially could eliminate the benefits of fish protection typically associated with no-take MPAs. These results highlight the need for improved law enforcement and better communication with neighbouring communities to increase awareness. It is further recommended that the current no-take status of the MPA should be maintained. In addition, baseline fisheries information was collected on certain fish species that could be used to inform future conservation management of the MPA. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The Dwesa-Cwebe Marine Protected Area is unique and important for the conservation of key surf zone and estuarine fish species. However there is a significant risk to the fish populations due to illegal exploitation. Key interventions should include enhanced law enforcement but, more important, the creation of alternative livelihoods and long term sustainable benefits to local communities.

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