Another humpback whale was found entangled in octopus traps just off Cape Point yesterday, the fourth whale to become entangled in these dangerous traps in just over a month.
“This entanglement too was in the marine protected area. Luckily as this humpback was not a juvenile, she was able to breathe and stayed alive all night allowing for the South African whale disentanglement team to free her,” a statement by the Sea Change Project said. “They tried to cut her loose last night but the water became too rough for the rescue mission to continue. The octopus fishery boat, The Albatross, reached the spot early in the morning and started to remove some of their gear. This helped cut the whale loose faster.”
On Friday, June 28, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy made the announcement to suspend exploratory fishing for octopus with immediate effect.
She had discussed the matter with operators in the False Bay area, where whales have regularly been getting entangled in traps meant for octopi.
“South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) volunteers, aboard an NSRI Simonstown rigid inflatable sea rescue craft and the local whale watching boat Southern Right, responded to the scene and initiated a disentanglement operation but in unfavourable sea conditions – and after the whale was seen to be able to have relatively good freedom of movement – the operation was suspended last night and resumed this morning, Monday, July 1,” the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said in a statement.
“It must be said here that during the moratorium the whole fishery needs to be scientifically evaluated to ensure that even the target species, the octopus, is actually a viable species to catch in large numbers. Independent assessments of this will be required with detailed data,” the organisation said.
Picture: Sea Change Project