Fishing Vessel Registration In South Africa

What is a Fishing Vessel?

A fishing vessel is a boat or ship used to catch fish and other valuable nektonic aquatic animals in the sea, lake, or river. 

Fishing Vessel Registration In South Africa

About registering a fishing vessel

To operate a fishing vessel in South Africa, you must take the vessel to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to test the vessel for sea-worthiness. Samsa will do an evaluation procedure and issue you with a Safety Certificate.

Once you have the certificate, you must apply with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development in Cape Town for a fishing vessel license.

You also need a certified copy of a valid radio license, reflecting the call sign.

A fishing vessel is a boat or ship equipped or used for:

  • management
  • harvesting
  • exploitation

of living marine resources or in support of related activities.

This includes any vessel aiding or assisting one or more vessels at sea in the performance of any permitted activity relating to fishing including, but not limited to preparation, supply, storage, refrigeration, transportation, or processing.

You must have a fishing right and a permit to engage in fishing activities. No fishing vessel will be registered without a fishing right and a permit to engage in fishing activities.

What you should do

  1. Arrange for the vessel to undergo a SAMSA sea-worthy evaluation procedure.
  2. Get the Application for local, high seas, and foreign fishing vessel license form at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Customer Service Centre in Cape Town on the Ground Floor, Foretrust Building, Martin Hammerschlag Way, Foreshore.
  3. Complete the form in print using capital letters only
  4. Attach:
    • Local
      • Completed application form
      • Valid SAMSA certificate
      • ICASA certificate, if applicable
      • If you are a new owner of the vessel, certified copies  of the company registration documents or identity document
    • High Seas
      • Same as for local, but the SAMSA certificate should reflect that the vessel may fish on the high seas
    • Foreign
      • the name and details of the vessel owner (including ownership shares)
      • the length of the vessel
      • the horsepower and capacity of the vessel
      • the Flag of State under which the vessel is currently registered (if chartered from or jointly owned with non-South African citizens)
      • the duration and the fishing sector in which the vessel will be deployed
      • registration certificate from the flag state
  5. Pay the prescribed fee according to the length of the vessel into the following account:
    Bank: First National Bank
    Account number: 62123256382
    Account Type: Current
    Account Name: Marine Living Resources Fund
    Branch Name: Corporate Account Services Cape Town
    Branch Code: 204-109
  6. Call the customer service center at tel. 086 000 3474 for a reference number. This will be provided only once the application is received by them.
  7. You can also pay in cash or by employing an electronic fund transfer (EFT). Please note that if the EFT was not done from a FNB (First National Bank) then there will be a 24-hour delay.
  8. Fax your proof of payment to the Customer Service Centre and request them to provide you with confirmation of payment.
  9. Apply to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Private Bag X2, Roggebaai, Cape Town, 8012 or
    hand deliver it to Foretrust Building, Martin Hammerschlag Way, Foreshore, Cape Town. 

How long does Fishing Vessel Registration last In South Africa?

Registration of a ship is valid for five years from the date of registration or renewal.