The Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy says she has no choice but to suspend exploratory fishing for octopus.
In a statement that her department has released, she says the decision follows public concern regarding recent whale entanglements in the False Bay area which has resulted in the cruel death of these mammals.
The carcass of a young humpback whale was found off Sunny Cove in False Bay. It’s the second fatality as a result of octopus fishery in the last two weeks.
During a recent engagement with fisheries stakeholders in Cape Town, Creecy indicated that she was seeking independent scientific advice on practical measures that could help prevent the entanglement incidents.
Since then, the department has engaged with operators and agreed that the suspension will remain until such time that scientists can further investigate the matter.
Creecy’s decision comes after Greenpeace Africa urged her department to take action before more whales die.
Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Africa, Melita Steele, says endangered whales already face many obstacles which include climate crisis, pollution, ocean acidification, and overfishing, which threaten their food supply.
She says entanglement in octopus fishery nets has become an additional threat to endangered whales.
Steele says the senseless and gruesome deaths of marine life cannot be condoned.
Following the recent whale entanglement, the City of Cape Town was the first to call on Creecy to place a moratorium on octopus fishing.
The City’s Coastal Manager, Gregg Oelofse, says the removal of a whale carcass costs between 50 000 and 150 000.