Sharks Board responds to call to ban shark nets

PHOTO: Stock image

A CALL to have shark nets banned in South Africa has gone viral on social media. The petition has garnered strong support from the community and has nearly reached its target of 110 000 signatures in the last week. At the time of publication 104 769 had supported the initiative.

The petition came as a response to Dr Sara Andreotti’s, a researcher at the Stellenbosch University, research results, which suggests that great white sharks are on the brink of extinction.

According to the petition started by Amelia Meister, shark nets, used to prevent attacks on the public, are a major problem as  the creatures can become entangled the nets.

However, Dr Matt Dicken of the KwaZulu-Natal Shark’s Board said that the data in Andreotti’s research was ‘misleading’ as the figures that were used were recorded between 1956 and 1976.

“The average number of white sharks caught in shark safety gear, which currently comprises of 22 kilometres of nets and 107 drumlines, over the past 10 years is 26, of which five are released alive.  This equates to an average mortality of 21 sharks per annum along a 320 kilometres stretch of coastline,” he said.

Dicken said he believed that the decline in the species was due to the fact that the sharks were either ‘incidentally or deliberately caught and killed in much higher numbers in other fisheries especially shark longlining”.

What’s more, he said, in an effort to reduce the number of catches the KZN Sharks Board has halved the number of nets deployed along the coast over the last 25 years.

He said the organisation was also in the process of  developing an electrical shark-repelling cable which would eliminate shark catches altogether.

 

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‘Sharks are not man-eating giants,’ says Sharks Board

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