South African Pelagic Fishing Industry Association

The small pelagic sector targets shoals of sardine (Sardinops sagax), anchovy (Engraulisencrasicolus) and red-eye round herring (Etrumeuswhiteheadi) in offshore waters (with a by-catch of horse mackerel (Trachuru strachurus).


Although historically focused on the west coast, specifically around St Helena Bay and Saldanha Bay, the fishery now also operates on the south coast from Gansbaai to Port Elizabeth.

Observers in this sector are deployed through the SAPFIA observer programme to monitor juvenile pilchard by-catch “voorloper” vessels. These vessels test areas that have previously been closed because of high by-catch.

DAFF scientists use the observer data, especially length frequencies, to enhance the data collected during their biannual research cruises. This supplements the overall database used in the management of the resource and TAC allocation.  The high percentage of coverage by observers of the small pelagic sector (particularly during the anchovy directed period) has facilitated the estimation of catch volumes and discarding. Observer data are also used to corroborate inspector’s estimates of species composition and the relative proportions of anchovy and sardine in landings. This information can then be utilised in setting appropriate quotas for the sector.