Original Research

Artisanal Fisheries in the Ndumo Area of the Lower Phongolo River Floodplain, South Africa

Hendri C. Coetzee, Werner Nell, Elize S. van Eeden, Engela P. de Crom
Koedoe | Vol 57, No 1 | a1248 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v57i1.1248 | © 2015 Hendri C. Coetzee, Werner Nell, Elize S. van Eeden, Engela P. de Crom | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 2014 | Published: 12 June 2015

About the author(s)

Hendri C. Coetzee, Institutional Community Engagement Office and Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Werner Nell, Optentia Research Programme, North-West University, Vaal Campus, South Africa
Elize S. van Eeden, Research Group for Integrative Multidisciplinary Eco Health and Well-being Studies, North-West University, Vaal Campus, South Africa
Engela P. de Crom, Department of Nature Conservation, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa


The aim of this study was to investigate the status of artisanal fisheries in the lower Phongolo River floodplain in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A cross-sectional quantitative survey design was used that included the development of a questionnaire and a systematic survey among the five villages bordering the Ndumo Game Reserve. Data were collected over a 5-day period by a group of 16 fieldworkers and analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, version 21. The results revealed that fish was the third most consumed protein in the area, that people consumed fish on average twice a week, that at least six fish species (and one recently introduced crayfish species) were consumed regularly, and that most fish were obtained from local vendors, who in turn bought it from local fishermen and -women. Fishing activities also appeared to occur predominantly along the river system and targeted mainly red-breasted tilapia (Tilapia rendalli) and Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) and, to a slightly lesser extent, African sharptooth catfish (Clarias gariepinus) and brown squeaker (Synodontis zambezensis).

Conservation implications: Given that Ndumo residents predominantly catch fish by means of non-commercial methods, that they do so for reasons of personal consumption and subsistence, and that they mostly target rivers and dams rather than the ecologically sensitive pans in the region, it would seem likely that fishing in the region might be sustainable for the moment. However, it is recommended that studies on the local fish populations and their reproductive rates be conducted so that the actual impact on local fish populations can be determined more accurately. This study serves to provide the necessary baseline data on fish utilisation in the region, which would enable the impact of artisanal fishing on fish reserves in the Ndumo region to be determined once population studies have been completed.


Ndumo, Ndumo Game Reserve, subsistence fishing, fish consumption, Phongolo River, Phongolo Floodplain


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