Cape Town - A second incident involving a protected great white shark being caught by shore anglers and hauled on to the rocks at Mossel Bay has outraged marine conservationists and many fishermen anew.
Two photographs showing two men each using gaffs to haul the shark out of the water have been posted on SEALINE, the on-line forum of South Africa’s angling and boating community. The incident appears to have happened last week.
Alison Kock, the research manager of Cape Town’s Shark Spotters programme, said the pictures were “incredibly frustrating” because they showed that white sharks, “a fully protected and threatened species”, continued to be targeted.
Also, the images were “really disturbing” because they showed how the shark had been gaffed. “These actions will have likely caused both external and internal damage, which could be fatal for the shark,” she said.
The Cape Argus has seen the photographs, but the photographer has asked that they not be used.
“The law is very clear that the moment an angler sees that they have caught a white shark; the line needs to be cut immediately. Under no circumstances can the shark be gaffed or dragged out of the water. These photographs clearly depict the actions of these anglers to be unlawful.”
Great whites have been protected in South African waters since May 24, 1991.
In late January, George fisherman Leon Bekker became the first angler to be convicted under this legislation after he pleaded guilty in Mossel Bay Magistrate’s Court to catching, landing and disturbing a great white without a permit. He was fined R120 000 or 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for five years.
Bekker had caught the shark on March 11 last year at Mossel Bay’s Beacon Point – the same area as the latest incident – and photographs of him with it sparked a similar outcry.
Kock said the case had set a precedent in how such unlawful acts could be successfully prosecuted, even though they were “challenging” for prosecutors. “I hope that the authorities will investigate this case to the fullest extent and once again send a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.
l The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had been asked to comment.
Anglers weigh in
The latest incident of a great white shark being caught from the rocks at Mossel Bay has been slammed by members of SEALINE, the on-line forum for the angling and boating community
One member, “Marthin”, posted: “As for GW (Great White) these 2 individuals in particular are especially daft... The kind of gaff (used) only shows the individuals had no intention of safely releasing any other sharks they encountered. At a spot infamous for ‘slagtery’ (butchery).”
A member with the profile name “QuoteUnquote” wrote: “Disgusting! They should be prosecuted as they have broken the law”, while “RobinF” said: “It all points to them being pretty blatant.”
“TTB” wrote: “I cannot fathom this fascination for catching sharks. Great white or not, since when do you put a gaff in a shark's body?”
“Boepens” sounded a cautionary note: “Don't generalise all shark anglers my friend. We’re not all idiots like these 2.” - Cape Argus