As consultations regarding the octopus fishing traps in False Bay draw to a close, the temporary suspension has been lifted and new rules have been developed to better manage the traps and protect whales who often fall victim to them.

The ban on octopus fishery has been applied since June 28 after a number of whales died and had to be unraveled from the traps earlier this year.

According to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, a number of reliable resources in the scientific and fishing community have been consulted on the ban, including two universities.

As the Department lifts the ban, they are also immediately implementing mitigation measures to ensure no harm comes to whales as a result of the traps.

New rules and regulations with regards to octopus traps now state that:

– The bottom line should consist 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 2m of the buoy line, with PVC piping or tubing

– The buoy must be mounted on the bottom with timed released mechanisms

– The working group recommended that if, within three months, there are two or more entanglements of southern right or humpback whales, the fishery should be halted

These new regulations include that if one bryde’s whale or any other whales are entangled in the traps the fishery should be halted and if any whale is killed because of the traps the fishery will be closed.

Along with these measures, the Department is looking to introduce more mitigation measures both on octopus traps in other areas and on fishing gear that also lead to entanglements and death in the larger Cape Town area.

“It is imperative that this fishery and all the parties involved do everything possible to ensure, not only the success of the fishery, but also the wellbeing of the environment in which the fishery operates,” Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy said to News24.

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