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Callorhinchus capensis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA CHONDRICHTHYES CHIMAERIFORMES CALLORHINCHIDAE

Scientific Name: Callorhinchus capensis
Species Authority: Duméril, 1865
Common Name(s):
English Cape Elephantfish, Josef, St. Joseph

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2006
Date Assessed: 2006-01-31
Assessor(s): Pheeha, S. & Dagit, D.D.
Reviewer(s): Human, B.A., Kyne, P.M., Fowler, S.L. & Compagno, L.J.V.
Justification:
A Southern African endemic known from South Africa and Namibia inshore to 374 m (but rarely caught deeper than 150 m). In South Africa, Callorhinchus capensis is an abundant species off the west and south coast, but uncommon along the east coast off KwaZulu-Natal. The St Joseph fishery in South Africa is based primarily on the west coast in the St Helena Bay area, where approximately 650 tons are caught annually using bottom set gillnets. Fishing effort is regulated by the number of nets a permit holder can have. The species is also taken as byproduct in demersal trawl fisheries. Overall, the annual catch (directed gillnet fishery and demersal trawl byproduct) appears to have stabilised at 700 to 900 tons. In Namibia, the species is not commercially targeted but is taken as bycatch of demersal trawl fishing, although not in large numbers. For the most part, this species is common within its range and it is assessed as Least Concern because there are no major threats apparent to its population at the present time.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: C. capensis is abundant off the west and south coasts of South Africa (Compagno et al. 1991) but rare off KwaZulu-Natal. Range may extend north of Namibia, but there are no confirmed records from Angola or more northerly regions.
Countries:
Native:
Namibia; South Africa (Eastern Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape Province, Western Cape)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – southeast; Indian Ocean – western
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Population size and structure is poorly understood.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Demersal and found close inshore to a depth of 374 m, although rarely caught in depths greater than 150 m and only females have been collected below 250 m.

C. capensis appears to have a relatively high fecundity and early onset of sexual maturity compared to other chondrichthyan fishes. Sexual maturity is calculated at about 4.2 years for females and 3.3 years for males (Freer and Griffiths 1993a, 1993b). C. capensis is oviparous producing one egg per oviduct. Their eggcases are large, spindle-shaped with broad lateral flanges. Embryos probably take 9 to 12 months to hatch. Breeding occurs throughout the year with distinct peaks in summer. During the breeding season, females move closer to shore to lay eggs and juveniles remain inshore for a period of 3 to 4 years. The majority of C. capensis caught by fishermen are in depths less than 100 m. Maximum size is 120 cm TL.

Most life history data are from Freer and Griffiths (1993a, 1993b).

Life history parameters
Age at maturity: 4.2 years (female); 3.3 years (male).
Size at maturity (fork length): 50% maturity: 49.6 cm FL (female); 50% maturity: 43.5 cm FL (male).
Longevity: 10+ years (females); 7+ years (males) (from graphs in Freer and Griffiths 1993b).
Maximum size (total length): 120 cm TL.
Size at birth: ~13 cm TL.
Average reproductive age (years): Unknown.
Gestation time: Incubation time of 9 to 12 months.
Reproductive periodicity: Active throughout the year but with a distinctive peak in summer.
Average annual fecundity or litter size: Unknown.
Annual rate of population increase: Unknown.
Natural mortality: Unknown.
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Caught primarily via a directed gillnet fishery off the south and west coasts of South Africa. Also commonly caught by bottom trawlers, and line-fishing boats, as well as sports anglers. The species occurs in shallow waters and very close inshore where fishing activities are often very intensive.

The St Joseph fishery in South Africa is based primarily on the west coast in the St Helena Bay area, where approximately 650 tons are caught annually using bottom set gillnets. Fishing effort is regulated by the number of nets a permit holder can have. Overall, the annual catch (directed gillnet fishery and demersal trawl byproduct) appears to have stabilised at 700-900 tons.

In Namibia, the species is not commercially targeted but is taken as bycatch of demersal trawl fishing, although not in large numbers. It is also irregularly taken by shore anglers (H. Holtzhausen, pers. comm.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In South Africa, gillnets used in the St. Joseph fishery are permitted as "shark nets" and are comprised of 178 mm stretched mesh with a fall of 3 m and length not exceeding 150 m. No person may hold more than four net permits. Nets are set in daylight for a period of about 30 minutes and may not be set within 500 m of the high-water mark (Freer and Griffiths 1993a). Continued management and monitoring practices should remain in place for this species to prevent overfishing.

The recreational line fishery in South Africa is managed by a bag limit of one/species/person/day for unspecified chondrichthyans, which includes C. capensis.

There is no specific management in place for this species in Namibia (H. Holtzhausen, pers. comm).

The development and implementation of national management plans (e.g., under the FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks: IPOA-Sharks) will help facilitate the conservation and management of all chondrichthyan species in the region. Namibia adopted its National Plan of Action (NPOA) in 2004. South Africa's NPOA is drafted and at the time of writing is still awaiting government approval: it is a matter of urgency to adopt and implement this NPOA.

Citation: Pheeha, S. & Dagit, D.D. 2006. Callorhinchus capensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 July 2014.
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