The Kouga Municipality has been investigating reasons why there has been a marked increase in shark activity in our waters over the past couple of months.
Sightings of great white sharks have resulted in beaches in Jeffreys Bay and St Francis Bay being closed with swimmers being evacuated from the water at Main Beach for 4 days in a row during the peak holiday season in December.
Fishermen have been reporting an unusual number of juvenile great whites taking bait off Kabeljous Beach, an occurance that is not seen every day in the bay.
The shocking discovery of long line shark fishing apparatus off the coast between Paradise Beach and St Francis Bay has shocked the local community and even more so because the operater is apparantly laying the bait legally.
The Weekend Post reported that Marius Van Heerden from Port Elizabeth has the only permit for long line shark fishing in the Eastern Cape and that he is allowed to fish for sharks anywhere.
The shark meat is is then exported to countries like Australia and France or their cartilage is used in medicine according to Van Heerden’s lawyer Ryno Scholtz.
Chumming for sharks must not be tolerated in our waters, permits or no permits. One wonders if any public participation process took place before a permit was issued allowing an individual the right to lay baited hooks just 300 m off our shores.
The usual argument will probably be presented that chumming does not affect the behaviuor of sharks as they are already here but why is this argument not also presented in our game parks. Why are buck not attached behind cars to attract lions when people go game viewing?
Tourism is the lifeblood of the coastal towns like Jeffreys Bay and St Francis Bay. We cannot afford to have baited hooks off our beaches that will attract predators closer to the shore. As a commumity we have to be pro-active and ensure this activity is banned before an accident happens.