Increasing the minimum landing size for Rock Bullseye

St Helena Government (SHG) announced changes to the minimum landing size of Rock Bullseye from 1 August 2021. All Rock Bullseye caught from this date must be a minimum size of 20cm.

Senior Fisheries Officer, Gerald Benjamin, explains:

“The decision to change the minimum landing size for Rock Bullseye is to protect the species and was based on stakeholder feedback and general consensus across sectors on St Helena that 15cm is too small.

“Anecdotal evidence from the industry indicates that Bullseye are less prevalent and smaller now than in the past. This is supported by scientific evidence showing that at 20cm fish are sexually mature and would have had at least one spawning season.”

Sustainable fishing is a fundamental principal of our category VI Marine Protected Area (MPA).   St Helena aims to have a sustainable fishery for both commercial and recreational fishing to enable this activity to continue into the future. 

For a number of years, work has been in progress to understand how much of the different types of fish can be taken from the waters around St Helena each year. This also includes scientific study into the size (length) these fish need to reach to allow them to spawn (release their eggs) to produce the next generation of fish. 

In May 2021 a request was made by the Economic Development Committee to the Environment, Natural Resources and Planning Portfolio (ENRPP) for consideration to be given to increasing the minimum landing size of Rock Bullseye above the then current length of 15cm. Advice on this change was sought from St Helena’s scientific partners, CEFAS, in the UK. On reviewing the data that was collected over a number of years from various methods and sources, it was concluded that the increase in length was justified based on evidence collected on-Island and a literature review. The decision to increase the minimum landing size of Rock Bullseye to 20cm follows data collection from:

  1. Local knowledge of marine users, both commercial fishermen, rock fishermen and SCUBA divers
  2. Over 15 years of yearly underwater dive surveys of repeat sites around St Helena
  3. Length, weight, sex and maturity measurements of fish collected on a monthly basis from around St Helena
  4. Ocean current modelling work looking at where fish eggs are likely to go when spawning around St Helena
  5. Evidence gained from a literature review (knowledge about these fish in other places around the world).

Gerald added:

“Questions have recently been raised in the public on when this change will be lifted but there is no intention  to rescind the minimum size limit because of the status of the stock.”

Publicity on the change to the minimum landing size of Rock Bullseye was provided via adverts on both local radio stations on 28, 29 and 30 July 2021 and in the Sentinel and Independent newspapers on 29 and 30 July and 5 August 2021. Letters advising of such change were also sent to individual licence holders on 23July 2021.

#StHelena #SustainableFishing 

22 September 2021

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470