Wed, 12 June 2019

Renowned natural history filmmaker Craig Foster has called for an end to the False Bay octopus fishery after another whale died tangled in ropes from octopus traps, writes Spike.

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OCEAN TRAVESTY: The dead Bryde's Whale is transported away to be destroyed. Photo Foster

Foster, who is founder of the Sea Change Project and one of the world’s leading natural history filmmakers, urged the Minister of Environmental Affairs to close down the octopus fishery, which takes 40 tons of octopus each year from False Bay.

"I spent a heartbreaking day yesterday with our Sea Change team documenting this beautiful Bryde's whale, in the prime of his life, destroyed by our infamous octopus fishery traps," he said.

The octopus fishery was an experimental fishery that had been going for 15 years with no proper scientific research. "In the eyes of many leading South Africans professionals dealing with the environment, this is now a totally failed experiment and should be stopped immediately before they cost us even more."

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ROPE WOUNDS: The rope had cut deep into the whale's fins and flesh. Photo Foster

Foster, an expert on the underwater fauna and flora of False Bay and in particular the Great African Sea Forest, is leading a bid to have the kelp forest declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

"We are allowing whales, over eight so far in two years, to be killed so we can sell octopus to the east. We are killing our iconic species, the icon of South African conservation, so that one tiny fishery employing a handful of people can profit.

"Octopus are vital food source for our top predators in False Bay. We are taking out 40 tons of octopus each year from False Bay, a keystone species, potentially endangering the entire ecosystem. It’s huge loss for almost no gain."

He said the fishery boats should be re-purposed for boat-based whale watching operations.

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ENOUGH: Craig Foster has called for an immediate end to the octopus fishery. Photo Foster

Foster has dedicated himself to learning the secrets of the Great African Sea Forest – the inshore kelp habitat at the South West tip of Africa, his underwater home. Together with Ross Frylinck he has written a book on their transformative experiences exploring the little-known coastline and shallow seas of the Cape Peninsula.

He is currently working on the Sea Change film which follows the story of his year with a wild octopus, at the same time honouring his pact to dive 365 times a year. Through this regular intensive immersion, he has uncovered a plethora of new animal behaviours and species, one of the species is a shrimp which has been named after him: Heteromysis Fosteri.

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Jeffrey Nimberg
+1 #2 MRJeffrey Nimberg 2019-06-13 12:36
we need to work together so that we can keep everyone happy. The octopus catchers need to get their quotas, BUT there has to be a revision on the traps, especially during whale season. to have 8 whales already DEAD in horrible means so early in the season is such a great sadness and a disgrace. they are the gentle giants of the world and they NEED OUR HELP
0 #1 MrsCharmaine 2019-06-12 21:36
Please stop this senseless death of our whales!!!
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