Fishing Rights and Permits | Western Cape Government


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(The Government of South Africa)

Fishing Rights and Permits


Fishing PermitsMany people enjoy fishing as a pastime. Fishing provides many benefits like stress relief and gives us a chance to reconnect with nature. It gives us a chance to visit places we wouldn’t normally visit and allows us to bond with friends and family. 

The Western Cape has many rivers, dams, and a vast coastline where you’ll be able to enjoy this pastime. However, before you begin planning your fishing trip, it’s important to remember that you’ll need a fishing permit or license to partake in this activity.

Freshwater fishing licenses and marine fishing licenses are managed by separate entities. If you’re interested in freshwater (fishing along rivers and dams), you’ll have to contact CapeNature. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment manages marine fishing (fishing along the coast) permits.

Marine fishing licenses

Annual and temporary permits can be purchased from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

Costs vary depending on the type of fishing permit you'd like to purchase

Marine fishing licenses can also be applied for and purchased from any Post Office in the province. 

It’s important to remember that there are specific regulations for different types of fishing. For example:

  • You’ll need a fishing permit.
  • You may not to sell and trade fish.
  • You need to use a rod, reel and line only, and follow the angling regulations when fishing.
  • Your cast net mustn't be larger than 6 meters in diameter.
  • If you've approval for spearfishing, you're allowed to catch fish of Class Pisces (that's bony fish, sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras) with a spear gun only.
  • You're allowed to fish from a vessel (like a boat) if you've approval to fish from a vessel.

Before you go fishing make sure which fish can or can’t be caught. Keep a copy of the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) guide with you. This guide indicates which species are green, orange or red according to their vulnerability.

  • Green means you can buy these species legally,
  • Orange means that the species is vulnerable or threatened, and
  • Red means that these species numbers have collapsed and it’s therefore illegal to buy, sell and consume that species.

Fishing PermitsFreshwater fishing licenses

Freshwater fishing licenses can be obtained from CapeNature, who is responsible for biodiversity conservation in the Western Cape, and are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. To apply for one, you can contact the head office at 087 087 9262 or one of the CapeNature regional offices.

You don't need a license to fish in a privately owned dam, but make sure to get permission from the owner beforehand. 

Where can you fish?

The Western Cape offers a wide variety of locations to fisherman looking for a catch. Within 150 km of Cape Town you’ll be able to find the following freshwater fishing locations: 

  • Brandvlei Dam: carp and whitefish
  • Rietvlei: carp and Mozambique tilapia
  • Lakenvlei: rainbow trout
  • Misverstand Dam: carp, largemouth and smallmouth black bass and Mozambique tilapia
  • Sandvlei: carp, Mozambique tilapia, sharptooth catfish and mullet
  • Theewaterskloof Dam: largemouth bass, carp, sharptooth catfish
  • Vöelvlei: carp and sharptooth catfish
  • Zeekoevlei: carp, Mozambique tilapia and sharptooth catfish
  • Berg River: rainbow trout above Franschhoek. Above Paarl, the river contains smallmouth bass and carp. The remainder of the river contains carp, Mozambique tilapia, sharptooth catfish and smallmouth bass.
  • Breede River: rainbow trout dominate its mountain streams flowing into it (e.g. Elandsplaat, Holsloot and Molenaars rivers) but brown trout dominate the upper Witte River. The Breede River provides excellent angling for carp, smallmouth bass, catfish and some whitefish.
  • Eerste and Lourens rivers: rainbow trout are common in the sections above Stellenbosch and Somerset West respectively. Carp are common in the middle and lower parts of the river.
  • Liesbeek River: The lower reaches have large numbers of carp and sharptooth catfish.

Marine protected areas

Marine protected areas (MPA) are protected sections of seas, oceans, estuaries or large lakes. These marine areas can range from wildlife refuges to research facilities. MPAs restrict human activity for conservation purposes, typically to protect natural or cultural resources.

There are 13 MPAs in the Western Cape including (bold indicates MPAs managed by CapeNature): Fishing Permits

  • Rocherpan (controlled zone)
  • Marcus Island (controlled zone)
  • Malgas Island (controlled zone)
  • Jutten Island (controlled zone)
  • Langebaan Lagoon (controlled and restricted zones)
  • Sixteen Mile Beach (controlled zone)
  • Table Mountain National Park (controlled and restricted zones)
  • Helderberg (restricted zone)
  • Betty’s Bay (controlled and restricted zones)
  • De Hoop (restricted zone)
  • Stilbaai (controlled and restricted zones)
  • Goukamma (controlled zone)
  • Robberg (controlled zone)

Each MPA is demarcated into either a controlled or a restricted zone:

  • In a controlled zone (also known as an open area) you’re allowed to extract or harvest if you have the required permit and licenses.
  • In a restricted zone (also known as a ‘no take’ area) you’re not allowed to remove any plant or animal life in the area.

For more information please contact:

Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment​ 
Cape Town
Tel: 021 402 3911
Fisheries Division Client Care:
Call Centre number 0860 00 3474
(0860 003 Fisheries Division of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries) permit related.

Contact the CapeNature if you need more assistance with Freshwater Fish Permits:
CapeNature head office:
Cape Town
Tel: 021 483 0000




Provided by:
Government Body: (The Government of South Africa)
The content on this page was last updated on 25 June 2021