ECOFISH Project Results
With funds from the Europe Union, the ECOFISH Project compiled and quality assured all available trawl survey data for hake collected through the past 20 years in South Africa and Namibia into a huge dataset of 8000 trawl hauls. A new fishing gear intercalibration model was developed to allow for simultaneous analysis of data from Namibia and South Africa. Geostatistical model (GeoPop) revealed three distinct stocks of shallow-water hake (Merlucius capensis) in the region, while deep-water hake (M. paradoxus) forms one stock. Both species turned out to be shared resources between Namibia and South Africa. Genetic results and an analysis of spawning areas, support these conclusions. Advanced instrument packages mounting on commercial and research survey trawls in the BCLME monitored environmental parameters during the catching process, which improved understanding of how to use and interpret trawl data. Newly applied techniques in age determination revealed that previously estimated ages and longevity had been substantially over-estimated and growth rates, length-at-age, weight-at-age and maturity-at-age substantially under-estimated. State-space stock assessment (SAM) model has been implemented and scientists trained in their use, improved the quality of scientific advice on fisheries management of hake and other species in the region. Ecofish contributed to the establishment of regional pelagic and demersal working groups under the BCC securing the sustainability of the methodologies and scientific processes developed and implemented by ECOFISH.
The BCC and its contracting parties in partnership with DTU have successfully completed a six-year and 10 month Ecofish Project (the Action) that started in December 2010. The Action has paved the way for necessary developments of EAF in the region starting with taking transboundary stock assessments issues into account. In particular, every piece of evidence produced points to panmixia and homing behaviour in M. Paradoxus. This natal homing to SA is not only documented by genetic studies and geostatistical modelling in peer reviewed publications but confirmed by peer-reviewed analyses of gonadosomatic indices, commercial catch rates and survey catch rates. In contrast, scientific evidence indicates at least two stocks of M. capensis, one each in SA and Namibian waters.
The final status of the results is highlighted in this report according to the Work Packages of the Action:
Download Ecofish Final Narative Report here
Ecofish Documents (Sources of Verification)
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