South Africa’s most economic significant leisure activity is under severe threat

Marelize Santana -- Mon, 08/27/2018 - 10:05

South Africa’s most economic significant leisure activity is under severe threat

The extreme pollution in a number of South Africa’s rivers, dams and marine systems is posing a threat to the country’s R52 billion recreational fishing industry.

Prof Melville Saayman, director of the research focus area Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES) at the North-West University (NWU), in conjunction with several universities including Rhodes University, the University of Cape Town, the Geographic Research Institute and the South Africa Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, recently conducted research on the economic impact of recreational fishing.The South African Consolidated Recreational Angling Association and SA Fishing Tackle agents and distributors also assisted with the research.

According to the study the economic impact of recreational fishing amounts to a whopping R52 billion annually and over 137 000 jobs depend on the activity in South Africa. “This makes recreational fishing the most economically significant leisure or recreational activity,” says Prof Saayman.

Over 1 300 respondents from various fishing disciplines took part in the national survey that was conducted. It was found that 90 % of the respondents are English speaking men with the average age of 45 years. A large number of the respondents spend an average of 48 days a year at the fishing spots across the country, and spend approximately R20 000 annually. The study found that their favourite species include carp, bass, kabeljou/cob and barbell.

According to Prof Saayman South Africa’s water quality could lead to a number of job losses, if the matter is not addressed by government. He adds that the water quality has health implications, because consuming fish that has been in polluted water is not healthy. “Polluted water also has great implications on the growth of fish,” he adds.

Prof Saayman concludes that local government’s inability to manage the water quality will have drastic effects on a number of people who live in the rural areas where the fishing takes place, as they cannot afford to lose their jobs or income.

For more information contact Prof Melville Saayman at or 018 299 1810