The haarder is an elongate fish with a pointed snout. The body has an overall silvery sheen, but is darker above and white below. There is a yellow blotch on the gill covers. Can attain 40 cm. Dense shoals of this abundant, cool-water species may often be seen off the rocky points and sandy beaches of the southern and western Cape coast of South Africa.

Though it rarely takes a bait, the haarder is traditionally of great importance to commercial seine and gill net operators along the Cape coast. Some 5–6 million can be caught in anyone year, especially off beaches at Cape Agulhas, Strandfontein and St Helena Bay.


Its firm white flesh makes excellent eating albiet somewhat bony. Salt dried haarders are known as bokkems which, when smoked, are a veritable delicacy and traditional Cape fare.

Haarders are suitable for:
  • baking

  • braai-ing

  • drying

  • frying

  • salting

  • smoking

Category: South African Cuisine

Subcategory: Seafood