Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy announced she was temporarily suspending exploratory octopus fishing with immediate effect after several whales died getting tangled in nets.
The exploratory fishing for octopus was established in 2014 in False Bay, Saldanha Bay, and Mossel Bay towards developing economic hubs and creating jobs in coastal areas.
“Our decision is taken following widespread public concern regarding recent whale entanglements in the False Bay area which has resulted in the untimely and cruel death of these magnificent creatures,” Creecy said in a statement.
Creecy’s department said the suspension would remain in place until scientists complete an investigation into the causes of the entanglements and come up with ways to mitigate this.
“Following today’s [Friday’s] meeting, operators will commence removing the gear from False Bay, focusing initially on those areas identified as most sensitive and with the highest number of interactions,” the department said.
The department said meaningful scientific data had been collected between 2014 and 2018 and would continue until 2021 in a bid to collect solid statistics.
The whale entanglements had led to a public outcry. The City of Cape Town on Thursday joined the chorus of calls for a moratorium on octopus fishing.
The City said at the time that three whales had become entangled in nets and two had died as a result of octopus fishing.
– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Devereaux Morkel