Certifier : 
Lloyds Register (Acoura)
Certified status : 
Certified since : 
16 Apr 2004
Certificate expires : 
11 Feb 2026


This fishery targets both deep-water hake (Merluccius paradoxus) and shallow-water hake (Merluccius capensis). Certification was first achieved in 2004, and has twice been successfully renewed.

Hake is a slow growing fish, reaching about 115cm, with a lifespan of about 14 years. The larger Merluccius capensis is known to prey on young Merluccius paradoxus, and cannibalism is also seen in both species. Both species aggregate to spawn – once in early summer and again in autumn.

Hake undertake daily vertical migration – they aggregate close to the bottom in the daytime and then disperse and move higher in the water in the night to feed on fish and plankton. Trawlers target hake at the bottom of the sea in the daytime.

The deep-sea trawl sector for South Africa operates primarily on the shelf edge, in waters deeper than 300 metres, from the Namibian border southwards to the south coast. The inshore trawl fishery operates along the south coast, comprising mostly small side-trawlers working in waters down to 110 metres on the Agulhas Bank.

Certification has seen a number of improvements to fishery management. The industry has ring-fenced existing fishing grounds to reduce the amount of habitat affected. It has introduced precautionary bycatch management measures for monk (catch limits) and kingklip (catch limits and seasonal closures). It also implemented the use of bird scaring lines. A recent study shows a 90 per cent reduction in seabird mortalities, including up to a 99 per cent reduction in albatross deaths since 2004.

Hake (Merluccius capensis) image © Scandinavian Fishing Year Book

Fishing for a future: 
Read the story of the South Africa hake trawl >