Lab

Southern African Fisheries Ecology Research Lab

About the lab

The Southern African Fisheries Ecology Research Lab (SAFER Lab) is a working group under Prof. Warren Potts at the Rhodes University Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science in Grahamstown, South Africa.

SAFER Lab's research scope is broad, including human dimensions in fisheries, climate change, aquatic eco-physiology, fish movement and migration behaviour, catch-and-release science, fisheries biology and stock assessments.

http://www.safisheriesecologyresearchlab.com/

Featured projects (1)

Project
Examine the impacts of ocean warming in Namibia and more specifically to examine the impact of hybridisation on the thermal physiology of Argyrosomus species.

Featured research (25)

Argyrosomus japonicus is arguably South Africa’s most important estuarine recreational and small-scale fishery species. Although juvenile A. japonicus predominate in estuarine environments, where catch-and-release angling is common, limited C&R studies have taken place. The aim of this study was to use angler-behaviour to robustly examine the physiological stress response, reflex impairment and short-term (12–36-hour) survival of A. japonicus following C&R angling. Observations of estuarine recreational angling informed three air exposure treatments based on minimum (10 s), mean (75 s) and maximum (240 s) observed times, for use in a controlled angling experiment. Based on a prior laboratory study, blood sampling was delayed 30–40 min post-capture to allow for peak accumulations of lactate and glucose. Long air exposure (240 s) predicted significantly higher blood glucose concentrations (ANOVA, p = 0.03) than short (10 s) exposure. Similarly, both long (p = 0.01) and moderate (75 s; p = 0.01) air exposure significantly predicted elevated blood lactate concentrations, when compared with short exposure. In terms of physical impairment, long air exposure (240 s) had a significant negative influence on the reflex response (cumulative link model, p = 0.01) of A. japonicus. An observed short-term mortality of 7.7% was primarily attributed to hooking injury. To reduce significant physiological and physical stress, it is proposed that anglers should aim to reduce air exposure times to below the observed mean of 75 s, and ideally to 10 s. For relevant and meaningful future C&R studies, we propound the incorporation of angler behavioural assessments, and the investigation of physiological stress responses, prior to designing field studies.
Non-compliance with recreational fishery regulations is considered to be one of the biggest threats to the sustainability of fisheries. Dedicated non-compliance studies are seldom carried out at the national level which makes it difficult to discern the behavioural compliance norms within a population. The instrumental approach for compliance is the traditional paradigm in recreational fisheries. It postulates that increased enforcement activities and the corresponding punishment will improve compliance behaviour, although there is little empirical evidence for such a supposition within the recreational fisheries context. Using face-to-face encounter surveys employing the ballot box method for reducing social desirability bias (SDB), South African marine shore-based fishery (MSBF) participants were questioned on their compliance behaviour with a set of regulations pertaining to the fishery. Overall non-compliance levels were very high (52%), and non-compliance levels with individual regulations varied based on provincial locality. Perceptions and observations of enforcement activity had no significant impact on compliance behaviour. Participants that had previously been caught by law enforcement violating the regulations were still more likely to violate the regulations than participants that had not faced enforcement action. Results indicate that calls for increased enforcement as a means of improving compliance behaviour are questionable in the South African MSBF, and further emphasise the need to develop alternative approaches, such as those pertaining to normative theory, within recreational fisheries.
Fishing guides are respected as opinion leaders of the recreational angling community, but little is known of their influence on angler behaviour. Given their social-standing, fishing guides may be perceived as role models by fishing clients – thereby potentially shaping the practices of many through their extensive networks of fishing clients. This influence may promote the adoption of best and/or worst environmental behaviours, depending on their individual knowledge, attitudes and actions. To understand if fishing guides are perceived to be role models by the recreational angling community, a digital survey containing a nine-question role model perception scale was designed to assess fishing clients’ attitudes towards fishing guides. The survey was designed to assess whether angling guides served the three role model functions proposed in the Motivational Theory of Role Modelling, which posits that role models function as Behavioural models, Representations of the Possible and Inspiration. Of the 492 fishing clients (27 countries), most agreed that fishing guides were competent, skilled, and worth emulating (91.1 %), suggesting they are perceived as Behavioural Models. Less agreed that fishing guides were Inspirational or Representations of the Possible (54.8 %), suggesting they are less likely to motivate anglers to adopt and/or pursue new goals. As Behavioural Models, fishing guide behavioural practices are likely to be emulated. These findings suggest that fisheries managers have an opportunity to influence general angler behaviour through focussed behavioural interventions with angling guides.
Inland recreational fisheries provide numerous socio-economic benefits to fishers, families and communities. Recreationally harvested fish are also frequently consumed and may provide affordable and sustainable but undervalued contributions to human nutrition. Quantifying the degree to which recreationally harvested fish contribute to food security and subsistence is impeded by lack of data on harvest and consumption and by the difficulty in differentiating among recreational and subsistence fisheries. Recreational harvest records tend to be limited to wealthy, food-secure countries and well-monitored fisheries with clear regulations or permitting systems. These records often neglect components of recreational harvest among food-insecure fishers who are potentially more likely to have consumption as a motivation. Here, we highlight the ‘fuzzy boundary’ that can exist between inland recreational and subsistence fisheries and argue that unreported consumption is likely to be a hidden contributor to food security in some populations. We draw on local case studies from around the world to highlight specific instances where recreationally harvested fish species contribute food and subsistence benefits to participating communities. We use these examples to highlight the diversity of ways that inland recreational fisheries contribute to human nutrition, knowledge gaps in understanding recreational fishing for food, and consequences of not accounting for them as food fisheries in policy and management. The aim of this paper is to draw the attention of resource managers and policy makers, create greater social awareness of the importance of recreational fisheries and bring to light this hidden contribution of inland fisheries to nutrition and subsistence.

Lab head

Warren Mason Potts
Department
  • Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science
About Warren Mason Potts
  • My research includes examining and predicting the response of coastal fishes climate change and understanding the synergistic impacts between exploitation and climate change. These findings are primarily contextualised in recreational fisheries, where I use this information to promote the strengthening of their governance (from policy to voluntary institutions) and employ a range of techniques to improve the environmental behaviour of anglers.

Members (16)

Amber-Robyn Childs
  • Rhodes University
Alexander Winkler
  • Universidade do Algarve
Matthew William Farthing
  • Rhodes University
Edward C. Butler
  • South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute
Matthew Parkinson
  • Rhodes University
Jack Coupland
  • Rhodes University
Michael Skeeles
  • Deakin University
Christopher S Bova
  • One Ocean Hub
NK Arkert
NK Arkert
  • Not confirmed yet
Cl De Beer
Cl De Beer
  • Not confirmed yet
Lauren A. Bailey
Lauren A. Bailey
  • Not confirmed yet
Amber-Robyn Childs
Amber-Robyn Childs
  • Not confirmed yet