New rules for octopus fishing in False Bay following whale deaths
The government will soon lift the temporary ban of octopus fishing in False Bay under strict conditions.
From Friday 15 November, new rules will come into effect to better manage octopus fishing traps that have claimed the lives of several whales in the Cape.
In June this year, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy suspended the exploratory octopus fishery.
Some whales on the coast had been caught in the entanglements and some had even choked to death on the fishing gear.
After consultations over whales getting caught in the nets, Minister Creecy announced new rules for octopus fishing in the False Bay area.
The rules are as follows:
- The bottom line should consist of entirely of sinking ropes.
- The chain on the buoy line must be moved from the top of the line to the bottom.
- There must be sheathing of the top two metres of the buoy line with PVC piping/tubing.
- The buoy must be mounted on the bottom with timed released mechanisms.
The ministry has also declared that the octopus fishery may be halted or terminated in the region should the following happen:
- If two or more entanglements of the southern right whale or the humpback whale occur within three months.
- At least one entanglement of the bryde’s whale.
- At least one mortality of any of these whales.
Environmental journalist Swati Thiyagarajan says while the new measures are a step in the right direction, the effectiveness of the regulations will not be immediately clear.
Thiyagarajan, who has been reporting on wildlife conservation for many years, says the department can only test the effectiveness of the new rules during the next whale season.
She adds that a three-month window period will not be long enough to see if the new rules have worked.
Until it's actually in the water, with the mitigation, and the whales come in, we will not know if it's actually successful or not.Swati Thiyagarajan, Environment editor - NDTV
Until the equipment goes back into the water, we won't know how effective it is.Swati Thiyagarajan, Environment editor - NDTV
According to Thiyagarajan, enforcement will be needed to ensure that the octopus fishing equipment is certified as "whale-safe".
The ban was never put in place as a permanent ban. It was put in place on the recommendation that scientists and stakeholders and activists would look at what they could do mitigate more whale entanglements in False Bay.Swati Thiyagarajan, Environment editor - NDTV
At the same time, Thiyagarajan says the department needs to investigate the sustainability of the octopus fishery as a whole and its long-term impact on ocean conservation.
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