Home > Summer School > Summer School 2022 > CONSERVATION AND NATURE > Why is fisheries management so difficult?


Emeritus Professor Douglas Stuart Butterworth, Marine Resource Assessment and Management Researcher, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics Department, University of Cape Town

Conceptually, sustainable management of a fishery is as simple a pensioner living off the interest on his/her investments and not delving into capital. The first lecture will summarise the basics of fisheries management in simple terms, explaining why the limitations of the resource monitoring data available are typically so severe as to render this simple objective seemingly impossible, and what approaches are applied to try to overcome this core problem.

The second lecture will draw on Professor Butterworth’s worldwide experience of over forty years in the field to comment on some of its many controversies in which he has been often been quite closely involved, both in South Africa and internationally. This experience ranges from the International Court of Justice to dealing with the role of the Mafia. Often the real reasons for final decisions can be quite different from what might appear to be the case. Issues considered will include the whaling controversy, the ENGO versus industry stand-off, marine protected areas, whether fishing is responsible for the declining South African penguin population, and the fishery rights allocation problem.


Lecture titles

1.  The basics

2.  The controversies


Recommended reading

Butterworth, D.S. 2019. The challenge of communicating science effectively in fisheries management. In: Science Communication in South Africa: Reflections on Current Issues (Eds.) Weingart, P., Joubert, M., and Falade, B. (African Minds, South Africa, 2019), 96–108.

Butterworth, D.S. 2013. Factoring uncertainty into management advice: Have fisheries scientists got their act together? Keynote address to ICES Annual Scientific Conference,

Reykjavík, 23–27 September, 2013.

Butterworth, D.S. 2007. Why a management procedure approach? Some positives and negatives. ICES Journal of Marine Science 64: 613–617.

de Moor, C.L., Johnston, S.J., Brandao, A., Rademeyer, R.A., Glazer, J.P., Furman, L.B. and Butterworth, D.S. 2015. A review of the assessments of the major fisheries resources in South Africa. African Journal of Marine Science, 37(3): 285–311.





DATE: Thursday 13–Friday 14 January
TIME: 1.00 pm
COURSE FEES: R150 (online)/R220 (in person)