Legal City(TM) :: Your Online LEGAL Partner(TM)
2nd Floor, North Block, Bradenham Hall, 7 Mellis Road, Rivonia, 2128
P O Box 837, Gallo Manor, 2052 • E-Mail. Telephone. 086 11 78378 • Fax. 086 648 7683
This document has been provided courtesy of Legal City -
General Disclaimer: The content of Legal City does not constitute legal, tax or financial advice, nor does it necessarily reflect the views of our management, staff, shareholders, associates, contributors, authors or suppliers. Even though every endeavour has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information we cannot be held responsible for any errors and/or omissions. By using this web site you agree to accept and abide by our terms and conditions. The web site and all its content is copyright © 2000-2016, Legal City CC • This page printed on October 22, 2016 at 7:48:12 pm, SA Standard Time.
Legal City :: Your Online LEGAL Partner

You and Your Rights

Terms and Conditions were
last updated on 3 Aug 2008
qPortal Content Management

You and Your Rights

Please note that since this book was last published in 1997 some of the laws that have been referenced may have changed. We are doing our best to update the articles, however, it is advisable that you to consult an attorney before relying on any information contained herein.


Angling laws that must be observed

Laws governing saltwater angling along the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape coast and parts of KwaZulu-Natal are promulgated under the Sea Fisheries Act by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Together with the KwaZulu-Natal Parks Board, which has jurisdiction over certain sections of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, the department generally views sea resources as falling into four categories: 

  • Fish; 
  • Bait organisms; 
  • Shellfish and crayfish; 
  • Mammals. 

Each of these is protected from over- exploitation by commercial and non-commercial exploiters in different ways. In the case of freshwater angling each of the provinces has its own list of regulations guarding against over-exploitation. As fishing regulations vary widely from province to province, be sure to check the legal position with your local authority.

Saltwater fishing 

Fish resources are protected from over- exploitation by non-commercial anglers and divers in five different ways: 

  • By insisting that catches be of a certain size and weight; 
  • By restricting the number of catches per person; 
  • By having closed seasons; 
  • By allowing only licence holders to remove certain types of marine life (in KwaZulu-Natal); 
  • By restricting the way in which certain types of fish may be removed. In KwaZulu-Natal, licences are obtainable from The Secretary, Natal Fisheries Licensing Board, Private Bag 15, Congella 4013. Telephone: (031) 25-5218. You can also apply for a licence at any KwaZulu-Natal Parks Board coastal resort and from the Development and Service Board offices at Oslo Beach and Park Rynie.

Bag limitation 

Angling fishes are divided into five groups for the purpose of bag limitation: 

  • Critical; 
  • Restricted; 
  • Exploitable; 
  • Recreational; 
  • Bait. 

CRITICAL On the critical list are brindle bass, potato bass, great white shark, Natal wrasse, poenskop, seventy four and red steenbras. Catches in this category are prohibited, except for the last three (poenskop, seventy four and red steenbras) for which the limit for sport anglers and spearfishermen is two per person per day. 

RESTRICTED On this list are bludger, blue Hottentot, dageraad, dane, elf/shad, Englishman, red stumpnose, rock cods (all species), roman, Scotsman, slinger, West Coast steenbras and zebra. Catches in this category are limited to five per person per day. 

EXPLOITABLE These include blueskin, Cape gurnard, carpenter, dorado (dolphin fish), elasmobranch (all species, excluding great white shark), geelbek, hake, Hottentot, javelin grunter, king mackerel, kob, panga, queen mackerel, red tjor-tjor, santer (soldier), snapper kob, tunas (all species), white stumpnose, yellowtail, and all species not on other lists. Catches in this category are limited to 10 per person per day. 

RECREATIONAL These include baardman, banded galjoen, bill fishes (all species), blacktail, bronze bream, Cape knifejaw, Cape stumpnose, galjoen, garrick, jan-bruin, king fishes (all species, excluding bludger and horse mackerel), large-spot pompano, musselcracker, Natal knifejaw, Natal stumpnose, river bream, river snapper, southern pompano, springer, spotted grunter, stonebream, swordfish and white steenbras. Catches in this category are limited to 10 per person per day in total, but only five of the same species. 

BAIT These include fransmadam, horse mackerel, chub mackerel, pinky steentjie, strepie, cutlass fish, wolfherring and all species of anchovies, garfish, glassies, half- beaks, mullets, sardines, sauries and scad. Catches in this category are unlimited in number.


Although you do not need a permit to catch fish with hook and line, you must be in possession of one before you can spear fish in KwaZulu-Natal. In this respect, remember too that in KwaZulu-Natal waters you may not shoot a fish with a mass of less than 2kg.

Other regulations 

Several other regulations have been drawn up to protect South Africa's marine life. These include: 

  • A closed season for shad, red steenbras and seventy four for the whole of November and for galjoen from 15 October to 28 February; 
  • A ban on the jigging of fish with unbaited hooks (except for octopus, cuttlefish and squid); 
  • A minimum weight for tuna that may be caught: 3,2kg for yellowfin; 6,4kg for bluefin; 3,2kg for bigeye; 
  • A ban on the sale of private catches; 
  • The erection of notice boards in sea reserves, giving details of what you may and may not catch; 
  • A limitation on the number of squid/ chokka that may be caught of 20 per person per day (in addition to a closed season for the whole of November); 
  • Use of a cast net only between sunrise and sunset. 

Collection of bait organisms and shellfish 

Organisms used mainly as bait by anglers are protected by limitations on number, size, method of collection and, in KwaZulu-Natal, by licences. Minimum sizes and maximum numbers per day for bait organisms and shellfish are:

alikreukel 5 63,5mm armadillo 6 - black mussel 25 - bloodworm 5 - clam 8 - limpet 15 - mud crab (giant) 2 114mm other crabs 15 - octopus 2 - oyster 25 51mm periwinkle 50 - polychaete worms (any sea worm, including coral, wonder, shingle, moonlight, pot, rock or flatworm) 10 - prawn (mud and sand) 50 - razor clam/pencil bait 20 - red bait (out of shell) 2kg - scallop 10 - sea cucumber 20 - sea urchin 20 - Venus ear/siffie 10 32mm white mussel 50 35mm

Alikreukel, Venus ear and white mussel are measured for size with rings that are 63mm (for alikreukel), 32mm (for Venus ear) and 35mm (for white mussel). The bait must not be able to pass through the ring. A crab is measured across the broadest part of its back. Only an instrument with a blade width of 38mm or less may be used to remove limpets, black mussels or red bait. Polychaetes may be dug up by hand only.

Gathering bait in KwaZulu-Natal 

In KwaZulu-Natal you may remove only red bait, a maximum of 0,5kg cut out of the cone where it is stuck to the rocks without a licence. A general bait licence will, however, entitle you to a daily bait quota of three crayfish, six crabs (not swimming), 30 mud and sand prawns, 20 mussels, 25 limpets, 30 sea lice and one octopus. You can also apply for special licences for the following organisms: 

  • A mussel licence will entitle you to remove 50 mussels per day; 
  • A non-commercial crab licence allows you to remove six swimming and 10 other crabs per day; 
  • An octopus licence entitles you to catch two octopuses per day; 
  • You can remove 50 mud and sand prawns if you have a mud and sand prawn licence; 
  • A sea lice licence allows you to catch 30 sea lice every day.

Collection of shellfish and crayfish 

For many visitors to the South African seashore, the collection of shellfish and crayfish is an important recreational activity. The three main shellfish are perlemoen, oysters and alikreukel. Each of these have different laws governing their removal. 

PERLEMOEN/ABALONE These are protected by the following restrictions: 

  • They must not have a diameter of less than 114mm; 
  • You may not remove more than four per day; 
  • Only 20 can be transported in a vehicle in which there are five people who have licences to remove them from the sea. Licences for persons older than 12 years can be obtained from most magistrate's, revenue and marine conservation offices; 
  • The closed season for removal of perlemoen is from 1 August to 31 October; 
  • Perlemoen may be removed only by using an instrument of which the front edge measures between 25mm and 35mm and has been so rounded off that it will not cut or damage the foot of the abalone; 
  • All perlemoen must be landed and transported in a whole state; 
  • Perlemoen can be taken only for personal use and may not be sold; 
  • They may not be gathered between sunset and sunrise; 
  • They may not be collected using artificial breathing apparatus, other than a snorkel. 

OYSTERS These are protected by the following restrictions: 

  • They must have a minimum size of 51mm (in Western and Eastern Cape); 
  • No more than 25 may be removed per person per day; 
  • For the removal of oysters, an implement may not have a blade or flat edge that exceeds 38mm in width; 
  • There is no closed season for oysters in KwaZulu-Natal. In KwaZulu-Natal there is no size restriction on oysters and 50 oysters may be removed per day by a holder of a non-commercial oyster licence. 

ALIKREUKEL These have the least restrictions protecting them. They have a size restriction of 63,5mm and a bag limit of five per person per day. 

CRAYFISH Two types of crayfish/rock lobster are exploited by recreational fishermen along the South African coast: 

  • West Coast crayfish, caught from about Cape Agulhas westwards. 
  • KwaZulu-Natal crayfish, caught from the Transkei coast northwards. The following restrictions apply to the removal of West Coast or Cape crayfish: 
  • A minimum length restriction of 80mm for the carapace; 
  • A seasonal permit (obtainable from various magistrate's, revenue and marine conservation offices and issued only to people older than 12 years) is required; 
  • A maximum of four crayfish may be caught per day; 
  • A limit of 16 crayfish may be transported in a vehicle in which four licence holders are travelling; 
  • No crayfish in berry or that has a soft shell may be taken; 
  • The closed season for Western and Eastern Cape crayfish is from 1 June to 15 November each year; 
  • Divers involved in the collection of crayfish must not use anything more than a snorkel and must enter the water from the shore. A ring net or scoop net may be used from the shore or from a boat not licensed to catch rock lobster. The rules governing the collection of crayfish in KwaZulu-Natal differ in that: 
  • Only crayfish with a minimum carapace length of 65mm may be removed; 
  • A maximum of eight crayfish per person per day may be collected; 
  • The closed season is from 1 November to 28/29 February.

Warning - Size limitation of saltwater fish

You may not catch or be in possession of any fish of the following species if they are smaller than the size indicated. (The overall length is measured from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.)
Size restrictions
The maximum size of fish that may be caught are as follows:
15cm Strepie
20cm Cape stumpnose/flattie, dassie/blacktail
22cm Hottentot
25cm Natal stumpnose, river bream, silverfish, slinger, white stump- nose
30cm . Bronze bream, dageraad, elf/shad, red roman, santer/ soldier, Scotsman, red stump- nose, zebra
35cm Galjoen
40cm Catface/spotted rockcod, kob, red steenbras, seventy four, spotted grunter, squaretail kob, steenbras, white-edged rock- cod, yellowbelly rockcod.
50cm Poenskop
60cm Geelbek, musselcracker, snoek, white steenbras
70cm Garrick/leervis


It is illegal to kill, catch, attempt to kill or catch, or to disturb a dolphin. It is also an offence to be in possession of any part of or product derived from a dolphin.

Furthermore, you are not allowed to catch, kill, disturb or harass a whale. The term 'disturb or harass' includes approaching closer than 300m to the whale - whether in a vessel, an aircraft or a helicopter. If a whale gets closer than 300m to a boat, it is the skipper's responsibility to move away to a distance of at least 300m.

Freshwater fishing 

Regulations governing the catching of freshwater fish varies widely from province to province and may change with time, but probably the most commonly applicable law is that you cannot fish without a licence.

Freshwater fishing in the Cape provinces 

You must be in possession of a licence issued by the Director of Nature and Environmental Conservation, a Receiver of Revenue or any other authorised person before you can fish in inland waters. Furthermore, it is illegal to: 

  • Catch without a permit any fish considered an endangered wild animal; 
  • Catch various species of fish outside their applicable angling seasons; 
  • Use a fyke net, crab net, trek net or cast net in any inland waters without a special netting licence; 
  • Snatch or spear a fish; 
  • Use more than two lines and more than two single hooks attached to any line.

You must also ensure that you do not exceed the prescribed daily bag limits or size and mass limits set by the authorities. 

Warning - Fish that may not be caught all year round

Some species of fish are protected for certain periods of the year. You may not, for instance, catch:

  • Elf/shad from 1 September to 30 November;
  • Galjoen from 15 October to 28 February;
  • Red steenbras from 1 September to 30 November;
  • Seventy four from 1 September to 30 November.

If you catch one of these species during a closed period, you will not be charged with an offence provided that you return it to the sea with as little damage as possible.

Freshwater fishing in KwaZulu-Natal 

It is essential to have a valid licence and to observe the closed season dates of various species of fish. Regulations in KwaZulu-Natal covering trout fishing include: 

  • A ban on catching fish in any trout waters with any implement other than a rod, line and hooks; 
  • The requirement that hooks, which must not exceed 40mm in length, be artificial non-spinning flies; 
  • A ban on more than three single hooks to a line; 
  • A ban on the use of more than two lines at any one time; 
  • The go-ahead for the use of a gaff for the purpose of landing any legally caught fish; 
  • A restriction to 10 (with a minimum length of 200mm) on the number of trout you may catch per day. 
  • You may not kill or remove more than 10 scalies a day in waters other than trout water; 
  • A duty to return to the water with as little delay and injury as possible any undersized fish. 
  • You must also return any fish over the prescribed numbers that you are allowed to catch.

Where waters are situated on land leased by the Nature Conservation authorities, or in a reserve or park where fishing is permitted, the relevant authorities may levy a charge for their use. 

Freshwater fishing in Free State 

In addition to requiring every angler to have a valid licence, legislation pertaining to freshwater angling in Free State goes a step further by insisting that you have your licence with you while you fish. This requirement does not apply to owners of land on which inland waters are situated (or to their relatives). You are not allowed to catch or attempt to catch any fish in privately owned waters without the owner's permission. It is also illegal, while carrying fishing tackle, to enter land where there are waters in which fish are likely to be found.

In terms of Free State legislation, a closed-season clause empowers the authorities to prohibit (by proclamation) any person from catching fish (or fish other than those of a particular species) during a specified period. While fishing in Free State you are not permitted to: 

  • Injure or disturb the ova, brood or spawn of any fish or any spawning bed, bank or shallow; 
  • Catch fish by any method other than angling (unless you have a permit); 
  • Use more than two lines with no more than two single hooks with natural bait, or one or more non-spinning artificial flies, or one artificial lure or spoon; 
  • Employ any method calculated to hook a fish in any part of its body other than its mouth; 
  • Catch or attempt to catch fish by means of a set line; 
  • Place a marker buoy or float in the water to indicate an angling or a feeding place for fish; 
  • Be in possession of any fish net or trap except a landing net or keepnet.

This last rule does not apply to the owner of land who has constructed a dam (not on a public stream) or to the holder of a relevant licence or permit. 

Quick Tip - Getting a licence

In most circumstances, you must have a licence to fish in inland waters.

To find out how to go about getting one, telephone the relevant authority of the province in which you intend to go angling.

Consult the Executive Council or Environmental Affairs section in your telephone directory for the correct numbers.

Freshwater fishing in Gauteng, North-West, Mpumalanga and Northern Province 

All persons over the age of 16 must have a licence to fish in these provinces.

Once you've obtained it, you must carry it with you whenever you go angling. This does not apply to the owner or occupier of land on which angling waters are situated. A relative of the owner or occupier may also fish on the land provided permission has been obtained. The owner's employees must have written permission to fish. It is illegal to: 

  • Catch fish during a closed season; 
  • Damage, disturb or destroy the ova or spawn of fish or a spawning bed, bank or shallow; 
  • Catch fish by methods other than ang-ling unless you have a special permit to fish by other means; 
  • Use a method to hook fish in any part other than the mouth; 
  • Place a marker indicating a place where there is any object or substance likely to attract or trap fish.
Disclaimer :: You and Your Rights
Although we have gone to great lengths to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this database, it is important to remember that laws, government departments, interest and taxation rates are constantly changing. If you have a particularly difficult problem you are advised to consult a qualified legal authority. The publishers, editors and their representatives cannot accept responsibility for any act or omission arising from consulting the information contained herein.
General Disclaimer: The content of Legal City does not constitute legal, tax or financial advice, nor does it necessarily reflect the views of our management, staff, shareholders, associates, contributors, authors or suppliers. Even though every endeavour has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information we cannot be held responsible for any errors and/or omissions. By using this web site you agree to accept and abide by our terms and conditions.
This web site and all its content is copyright © 2000-2016, Legal City CC • Web site managed with qPortal Content Management v 4.0.0 • This page loaded on October 22, 2016 at 7:48:12 pm, SA Standard Time.