The White Steenbras Project

Overview of the Project

Welcome to our research page dedicated to the endangered white steenbras (Lithognathus lithognathus) and our ongoing efforts to study and conserve this incredible species. The Knysna Estuary in South Africa plays a crucial role as a habitat for juvenile white steenbras, making it a focal point for our research. Our project aims to understand the past, present, and future status of the white steenbras to aid in its conservation.

Project Goals

Our primary goal is to delve into the various aspects of the white steenbras’ life, from its recruitment and habitat use to its dietary habits and socio-economic significance. Through this research, we hope to contribute valuable insights that will support conservation efforts and promote the recovery of this endangered species.

Current Knowledge Review

The white steenbras is a fascinating species with unique biological and ecological traits. Unfortunately, due to factors such as overfishing and habitat loss, it has become endangered. Our project reviews the current knowledge on the species and seeks to uncover the reasons behind its declining population.

Conservation Importance

Conserving the white steenbras is vital not only for maintaining biodiversity but also for the health of the ecosystem. The species plays a significant role in the estuary’s food web and contributes to the ecological balance.

Research Methodology

Recruitment, Habitat, and Stock Status

Our study focuses on the recruitment and habitat use of juvenile white steenbras in the Knysna Estuary. By collaborating with SANParks, we aim to assess the impact of recreational and subsistence fishing on this species.

Acoustic Telemetry Study

Using acoustic telemetry, we compare the survival of white steenbras in areas with low and high fishing pressures. This study will help us determine the effectiveness of the EPA approach in ensuring the species’ long-term survival and recovery.

Food and Feeding Ecology

We analyze the diet of different size classes of white steenbras and investigate their competition with the spotted grunter. We will be able to determine the areas most suitable for different size classes of white steenbras based on food availability in the Knysna Estuary.

Socio-Economic Importance

The white steenbras has played a significant role in the diet of early hominins and continues to be important for present-day humans along the southern African coast. Our research includes a preliminary assessment of the socio-economic benefits of a full recovery in white steenbras stocks.

How You Can Help


Your financial contributions are crucial for supporting our research. Every donation helps us move closer to understanding and conserving the white steenbras. Use the buttons below to donate once-off or on a monthly or annual basis – for more payment options go to our donation page.

Send Us Your Skeletons

You can also contribute by sending us fish skeletons. This program helps us gather valuable data for our research. Follow the instructions provided below to participate:

You can play a key part in white steenbras fisheries research by donating your fish skeletons to help with our research program to ensure its long-term recovery.

The skeleton contains key biological information, such as length, age and sex, that we can use to make science-based decisions to sustainably manage our fisheries.​​ 

How to donate:

  • Please donate the whole filleted skeleton (frame with the head and guts intact) if you can.
  • Frames must be frozen.

Label frames with:

  • your name, phone number and email address (so we can send you research feedback);
  • the date of your capture;
  • the location of your capture in Knysna; and
  • the bait used to catch fish.

Information you provide about the location of your catch is confidential.

You can call Jessica on 079 941 3516 to come and collect the fish from you.​ For any queries or to enquire about staff picking up frames from your house, email​.

We need frames for the following species from Knysna below:

Contact Information

For more information about our research or how you can help, please contact us at [].