The Fisheries Research Vessel Africana departed Cape Town this week for a 52 day Pelagic Biomass Survey with thirteen fisheries personnel on board. The area of operation will be from Hondeklip Bay to Port Alfred. The purpose and objectives of the survey are to conduct acoustic sampling to detect the abundance of pelagic species (anchovy, sardine, round herring, horse mackerel and meso-pelagic fish) using acoustics detectors; fish biological sampling by measuring length frequency distributions, sex and gonad maturity staging, fat staging, fish egg and environmental sampling. Collection of these data has a direct impact in the estimation of the total allowable catch for the South African Pelagic Fishing Industry.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has commenced with a process of sourcing a modern and efficient replacement vessel which is required to improve South Africa's fisheries research capacity and capabilities to enable it to develop and sustain its deep-water research, contribute to maintaining the current levels of employment in the fisheries. As the Africana is now over 35 years old, the repairs underwent recently were severely impacted upon by the availability of spare parts, particularly the main engine bearings, which are no longer available off the shelf.
The Africana has surpassed its life expectancy of 30 years by 7 years and as a result, the cost of maintenance continues to increase on a daily basis and it is becoming unsafe, unreliable and uneconomical to operate. The replacement vessel can possibly be chartered locally by other government departments, research and academic institutions as well as in the region by other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to conduct marine and environmental research.
After the last scientific survey of 2017 which was successfully completed in mid-December, the Africana commenced with its scheduled 6000 hour services to the Port and Starboard Main Engines. Due to the required repairs and upgrades that were conducted during down time, the DAFF has lost significant sea time. The DAFF wishes the Africana a successful research voyage.
Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries