The waters off South Africa’s coastline boast a rich mix of commercially fished species. Quantitative assessments of these marine resources have developed from simple methods first applied in the 1970s, to models that encompass a wide range of methodologies. The more valuable resources have undergone regular assessments in recent decades, with frequencies closely related to the management approach employed for each fishery. Many of these assessments form the operating models used to simulation-test candidate management procedures. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the assessments of 11 of the most important fisheries resources in South Africa. Some assessments use simple biomass dynamics models, whereas others are a hybrid of age- and length-based models, each designed to model the specific characteristics of the resource and fishery concerned. Many of the assessments have been disaggregated by species/stock and/or area as related multispecies/stock/ distribution hypotheses have arisen. This paper explores the similarities and differences in the data available and the methods applied. The review indicates that, whereas the status of three of these resources cannot be estimated reliably at present, the status of six resources is considered to be reasonable to good, whereas that of abalone Haliotis midae and West Coast rock lobster Jasus lalandii remains poor.
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