Area of capture
South Africa - FAO Area 47
Kingklip (Genypterus capensis) is a member of the cuskeel family (Ophidiidae) and is endemic to Southern African waters. It is one of the most popular eating fish in South Africa and is of significant economic importance to South African fisheries. Kingklip stocks were heavily overfished in the 1980ï¿½s, when they were exploited by an experimental longline fishery, although this fishery has since closed and kingklip are now better managed as a bycatch in the offshore demersal trawl and demersal longline fisheries, stocks have not yet recovered to their former abundance and there is a precautionary catch limit of 3000 tonnes. Kingklip are a demersal (bottom-dwelling) species mainly found in offshore deepwater habitats from 50-550m. They are relatively slow-growing and long-lived (a 1.6m fish is probably 20 years old) and cannot sustain targeted fishing pressure which is why there is no targeted fishery for this species and they are currently managed as a bycatch species. Stocks are considered to be fully exploited.
Kingklip (Genypterus capensis) is one of the more economically important species in South African fisheries. They are caught as bycatch in both the demersal longline fishery and the offshore demersal hake trawl fishery (see kingklip assessments for offshore demersal trawl). There is also a similar, related species from New Zealand known as ling (Genypterus blacodes) which is found on the South African market. Although Ling are often incorrectly marketed as kingklip, they are not caught in the same fisheries and therefore do not have the same environmental impact (see assessment for imported New Zealand ling).
The demersal longline fishery operates using long weighted mainlines, which can be up to 10km long and have up to 20 000 baited hooks along their length. The mainline is weighted so that it lies on the ocean floor, primarily targeting bottom-dwelling species such as hake (Merluccius capensis and M. paradoxus). Longlining is a relatively selective fishing method as only animals that bite the hooks will be caught and is considered to cause low to moderate habitat damage, depending on the bottom habitat type. However, demersal longlining is known to catch a number of vulnerable bycatch species such as seabirds (including albatrosses and petrels) as well as sharks and skates, many of which reproduce very slowly and cannot withstand heavy fishing pressure. There are bycatch mitigation and other management measures in place for this fishery however compliance with permit conditions is not considered adequate and enforcement needs to be improved.
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What can YOU do?
Rather choose a green-listed alternative, such as gurnard or kob farmed in land-based farms. These alternatives have similar firm, white, flaky flesh as kingklip. Or if you don't want to cut kingklip out of your diet completely, eat it on a special occasion rather than every time you eat out.
This fishery is currently involved in a Fisheries Improvement Project, which WWF SASSI believes is a very positive development. This is how WWF SASSI and responsible suppliers and retailers can help drive positive change in fisheries around the world.Read more about the FIP in place here.