This was the third whale caught in an octopus trap in two weeks, of which two have died. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
This was the third whale caught in an octopus trap in two weeks, of which two have died. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Octopus permit being reviewed, City may invoice firm over whale carcases

By Staff Writer Time of article published Jun 28, 2019

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Cape Town – The carcass of a young humpback whale found floating about 500m off Sunny Cove along False Bay has prompted a call to place a moratorium on the exploratory octopus permit.

Officials from the City’s environmental management department’s coastal management branch were alerted to the carcass, and retrieved it before it was stranded on a beach on Wednesday.

The whale carcass was cut free and towed to the Miller’s Point slipway for removal to a landfill site by the City’s solid waste department.

The City has now called on the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to place a moratorium on permits.

“This is the third entanglement and second fatality of whales as a result of the octopus fishery in the last two weeks.

“All of these entanglements have occurred within the designated Marine Protected Area surrounding our shores.

“We are aware that livelihoods and jobs depend on the octopus fishing industry; however, we have to insist on sustainable practices.

“We can’t allow a situation where whales continue to die because of these nets,” environment Mayco member Marian Nieuwoudt said.

Department spokesperson Albi Modise said the department was in discussions with octopus experimental permit holders and the permits and conditions were under review.

“The preliminary reports indicates that the entanglement occurred as a result of the old lost fishing gear from the previous experiment.

“Recent gear that is being used by the fishery has been modified to eliminate entanglement.

“The department will be engaging relevant stakeholders, inclusive of researcher and cetacean experts, in the next coming days to seek a long-term, sustainable solution,” Modise said.

Nieuwoudt said: “The removal of whale carcasses places a huge financial burden on the city’s coffers. We’re now considering invoicing the fishing company or the national government for the removal cost and disposal.

“The cost to remove and dispose of one whale carcass amounts to between R50 000 and R150 000, depending on the weather conditions and the location of the carcass.

“We can’t expect ratepayers to keep on subsidising the bycatch of whales.” 

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