New octopus fishing rules supposed to help whales

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 12 November 2019

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has announced that the temporary suspension of the exploratory octopus fishing in False Bay will be lifted from 15 November.

A temporary ban on octopus fishing was implemented on 28 June after a number of whales got caught in the fishing lines and some died.

The reinstatement of octopus fishing follows consultations over whales getting caught in the nets and a new set of rules, which will need to be implemented. These are aimed at protecting large cetaceans from getting caught and if the measures prove not to be successful the octopus fishery faces possible permanent closure.

The rules are as follows:
• 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
• If there was at least one entanglement of the Bryde’s whale, the fishery should be
• Should there be at least one mortality of any of these whales, the fishery should be

Also read:
Another whale dies in False Bay

These rules will be introduced incrementally into other areas where octopus fishing takes place.

The department is wanting to introduce mitigation measures on other fishing equipment that has resulted in whale entanglements or deaths.
‘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,’ said Barbara Creecy, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.

Image by Ken Findlay

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