Marine Living Resources Act

MLRA aims to ensure the conservation of marine living resources, marine biodiversity and reduction of marine pollution. The MRLA encourages precautionary measures to be taken in the management and development of marine resources and promotes the sustainable use of these resources to achieve economic growth.

Marine Living Resources Act
Act No. 18 of 1998  
"To provide for the conservation of the marine ecosystem, the long-term sustainable utilisation of marine living resources and the orderly access to exploitation, utilisation and protection of certain marine living resources; and for these purposes to provide for the exercise of control over marine living resources in a fair and equitable manner to the benefit of all the citizens of South Africa; and to provide for matters connected therewith."
View Original Act (PDF) View Amended Act (PDF)

The purpose of the Act is:

  • to achieve optimum utilisation and ecologically sustainable development of marine living resources;
  • the need to conserve marine living resources for both present and future generations;
  • the need to apply precautionary approaches in respect of the management and development of marine living resources
  • the need to utilise marine living resources to achieve economic growth, human resource development, capacity building within fisheries and mariculture branches, employment creation and a sound ecological balance consistent with the development objectives of the national government;
  • the need to protect the ecosystem as a whole, including species which are not targeted for exploitation;
  • the need to preserve marine biodiversity;
  • the need to minimise marine pollution;
  • the need to achieve to the extent practicable a broad and accountable participation in the decision-making processes provided for in this Act;
  • any relevant obligation of the national government or the Republic in terms of any international agreement or applicable rule of international law; and
  • the need to restructure the fishing industry to address historical imbalances and to achieve equity within all branches of the fishing industry.


Chapters of the Marine Living Resources Act:

 Chapter 1: Introductory Provisions  Chapter 2: Administration
  • Objectives and principles
  • Application of act
  • Conflict with other acts
  • Establishment of Forum
  • Functions of Forum
  • Composition of Forum
  • Industrial bodies and interest groups
  • Fishery control officers and honorary marine conservation officers
  • Marine Living Resources Fund
  • Appropriation of Fund
  • Register
  • Permits
 Chapter 3: Management of Marine Living Resources  Chapter 4: Marine Protected Areas
  • Fisheries planning
  • Local fishing
  • Commercial fishing
  • General local matters
  • Fisheries transformation council
  • Foreign fishing
  • High seas fishing
  • Marine Protected Areas
 Chapter 5: Prohibited Activities and Stowage of Gear  Chapter 6: Law Enforcement
  • Prohibited fishing methods
  • Possession of prohibited gear
  • Interference with gear
  • Driftnet fishing
  • Fish aggregating devices
  • Stowage of gear
  • Observers
  • Powers of fishery control officers 
  • Powers of fishery control officers beyond South African waters
  • Seizure of vessels
  • Seizure of vehicles or aircraft
  • Immobilisation of vessels, vehicles or aircraft
  • Co-operation with officials
  • Duty to report
 Chapter 7: Judicial Matters  Chapter 8: General Provisions
  • Offences and penalties
  • Limitation of liability
  • Destruction of evidence
  • Payment for information leading to conviction 
  • Security for release of vessel, vehicle or aircraft
  • Disposal of perishables
  • Treatment of things detained or seized
  • Application of security
  • Liability for loss, damage or deterioration of things in custody
  • Removal from custody
  • Forfeiture orders by court
  • Disposal of forfeited things and discharge of forfeiture orders
  • Jurisdiction of courts
  • Documentary evidence
  • Validity of certificates
  • Certificate as to location of vessel
  • Designated machines
  • Photographic evidence
  • Observation devices
  • Power to make regulations
  • Assignment to provinces
  • Delegation of powers
  • Appeal to Minister
  • Exemptions
  • Inquiries
  • Scientific investigations and practical experiments
  • Repeal of laws, and savings
  • Transitional measures
  • Short title and commencement