For years the octopus-trapping ropes set up in False Bay have led to a number of marine animals, whales in particular, getting entangled and killed. The recent death of a trapped Bryde’s whale just days after a humpback calf was trapped in the same ropes has pushed the public over the edge.

Members of the community took to social media to share their outrage over the incident and have joined together to see that something is done about these needless and preventable deaths.

An official petition has been created to raise awareness around the harm caused by octopus traps as well as develop safer conditions for marine life.

“We request an immediate moratorium [ban] on all octopus trapping in the False Bay area until such time as stakeholders and concerned citizens are consulted and can agree on a safe operating standard/procedure for the use of traps used in the octopus trapping fishing industry and that the Department uses this period of Moratorium to gather much-needed information on stock levels and the impact of octopus trap fishing on the environment,” the petition reads.

The Bryde’s whale carcass floating on the water’s surface. The whale died after it got caught in octopus-trapping ropes.

For years permits for octopus trapping have been casually issued, and these traps have lead to numerous entanglements and deaths of marine animals.

The community feels the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has approved a number of permits without proper consideration or updated data.

Octopus traps consist of long ropes tied to buoys that float just above the water surface, and are not only a danger to whales but also to dolphins, boats and ships.

The Bryde’s whale carcass was hoisted ashore.

False Bay is home to the South African Navy and octopus traps also often endanger those on board boats in the bay, as the traps no longer include sonar reflectors or lights as they once did.

If a submarine accidentally catches one of the ropes in its propellers, a dire situation could develop.

Recently two whales were caught in the same octopus trap near Millers Point on June 8 and 10, leading to the death of one of them.

The carcass of the Bryde’s whale being towed into the harbour.

The creators of the petition, dubbed “Save our whales: Stop Octopus Trapping in False Bay, Cape Town”, are imploring the Honourable Minister to place an immediate ban on all trapping in the False Bay Area until a safer operating procedure can be put in place. A safer procedure would include compulsory 24-hour monitoring at sea of octopus traps and sufficient visible signalling on the traps’ buoys to avoid endangering any more marine or human life.

The community hopes that the department will also take time to assess the current stock levels and update any information they may need to make educated decision when issuing permits.

Act now to save whales in False Bay by signing the petition here. 

Also Read: Whale caught in octopus trap dies

Picture: Allison Thomson/Facebook

Article written by

Aimee Pace

Aimee is an avid gamer, enthusiastic yogi and animal lover. Addicted to anime, coffee and plant-based meals. Current favourite pastimes include, sewing and learning Japanese.