S.Africa halts Cape Town octopus fishing after 2 whales die
South Africa on Friday halted octopus fishing off Cape Town after two whales died when they became entangled in lines attached to octopus traps, the government said.
One young humpback whale was dragged ashore this week after becoming entangled in lines attached to octopus traps, while a 12-metre-long Bryde's whale died earlier this month in similar circumstances.
A third whale was recently injured after becoming tangled in the lines.
Cape Town officials told local media at least six whales had died in the area due to octopus trap lines over the last four years, with the whales often showing deep lacerations from the failed struggle to free themselves.
The environment ministry said exploratory octopus fishing, which is conducted to gather research on establishing it as a viable business, had been banned until scientists could prevent further entanglements.
"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," environment minister Barbara Creecy said.
Cape Town official Marian Nieuwoudt had called for octopus fishing to be banned after about 25,000 people signed an online petition in recent days.
"This is the third entanglement and second fatality of whales as a result of the octopus fishery in the last two weeks," Nieuwoudt said. "We cannot allow a situation where whales continue to die."
She said it cost up to 150,000 rand ($10,000) to collect a whale carcass from the sea and bury it on land.
© 2019 AFP