Monday, October 31, 2011

Protected White Sharks Targeted in S.A?

Riaan Engelbrecht has been a very busy South African white shark fishing machine going back to 2009.

He's also the owner of South Africa's Extreme Fishing.

Targeting white sharks in South Africa his Facebook site reads like a one man ecological disaster for animals that are supposed to be protected in his home waters.

As the owner of Extreme Fishing you might think that Riaan is aware of the protected status of white sharks. Perhaps he is, or perhaps the four images he recently posted of different white sharks stranded on local beaches with his smiling face are just a fluke, an accident, and not a targeted trophy fishery.

We have been here before, last month, when the conservation world became outraged at the sight of another white shark harvested by trophy seeking locals with little regard to the health and welfare of the animals they sought.

It's officially a problem when you discover a guy like Riaan Engelbrecht who posts four white sharks with the title "Tight Lines" on his Facebook site with no media backlash, no government intervention, and no conservation push back.

We said it last month when the first locally white shark was caught and photographed, a rally call for local shark conservationists.

Here is our post again and perhaps this time these images can motivate those who claim to love sharks into action:

Wolfgang Leander, the wizened sage of the shark conservation movement, has been raising awareness about the tragic S.A shark disappearing act for several years now and yet it still happens, and now we have the visual proof to back his many blog posts up.

So before one more so called shark conservationist in S.A stands up to cry about sharks, before we are subjected to another pretty You Tube video from S.A featuring a bimbette riding the fin of a now dead and poached Tiger shark, let's get real about shark conservation.

It starts with this guy and a call for prosecution, the ensuing media madness, and a follow through to see that it is done. This cannot stand.

We understand that S.A is a world away from conservation norms, but to those who would claim that they are the leaders of any conservation movement with sharks in S.A we say "show us what you got".

It's your backyard and this guy just took a great big dump in it.

For these many white sharks at least - time has run out.

Update: The South African Shark Conservancy is on the case and looks like they know a range of illegal fishermen, fishing groups and websites promoting illegal white shark catches in South Africa. Their Facebook site has all the details, if you can support or help their ongoing investigations in any way please contact them it is time to put an end to trophy white shark fishing in S.A and it starts with some media pressure.


Anonymous said...

How does one stop a shark from taking a bait in the water? You can't...

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

You are right anonymous, no one can stop a white shark from taking a bait.

That's a fact.

But here's what can be done if there's someone with the time, energy, and desire to see change happen.

1. Work to "set aside" known fishing areas for white sharks on a seasonal basis. These areas would be shut down to bait fishing with heavy tackle and certain hook/line types. High dollar fines would be part of the equation for first time violators.

2. Increase the fines for white shark catches. As I understand it the current laws state that fishermen must immediately release all white sharks, not land them. Images and video of white sharks on the shore or stranded on beaches would elicit immediate high dollar fines. Like traffic cameras in the USA and the EU.

3. Work to develop a high profile pro-shark media team in S.A. Major media sources who are pro-shark might be tapped to raise awareness, and go after violators. No one likes to be "outed" especially for fisheries violations in the major media.

And the list goes on.

Protections for white sharks do not end at "How does one stop a shark from taking a bait in the water?"

They start there.

We are aware that S.A is a "world away from shark conservation norms" but that does not mean that smart initiatives and solid groundwork cannot make life for these animals better.

At the end of the day this is a distinctly S.A problem, one that will have distinctly S.A solutions.

For the piles of poached and dead animals we have seen over the past three years, hopefully time has not run out.

That being said we are aware of a few folks who are trying, and making progress with sharks in S.A.

We wish them the very best.

Anonymous said...

AfriOceans Conservation Alliance, the NPO in South Africa that has been lobbying for the protection of a number of shark species in our waters, including for improved compliance in our WANTED! DEAD or ALIVE? campaign, has been in contact with the authorities re this matter.

They have assured us they are in the process of taking action. We will on the other hand ensure they fulfill their mandate to protect our white sharks and keep the general public informed of progress.

Please consider assisting us as requested in the post re our campaign - we need international support to win this battle.

Lesley Rochat
Founder & Executive Director, AfriOceans

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

Thanks Leslie, that's two groups that I am aware of on this, hoping for good things.

Is this guy or the other guy getting fined?

Neil Hammerschlag said...

Inadequate enforcement by Marine and Coastal Zone (Mis)Management is a serious issue. Shark Conservation is simply not a priority.

Anonymous said...

Who pays for all this conservation you propose? The fisherman!!! Do Shark Divers pay any dollars to government agencies for law enforcement or conservation issues? No. If you are really concerned why not ask the SA government to require a fee for all those shark diving to pay to protect the environment a 100.00 charge per dive would really help. I know of a wolf who has laid out over one hundred thousand dollars to go on shark dives, but 0.00 dollars for shark conservation. It seems shark divers cry, and cry, about the environment but never lay out any cash. Prove to the world that your sharks are worth something other than a petition and more crying, CASH, CASH, CASH, forget the crying....

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

Agreed the shark conservation side is often lacking the funds necessary to be effective.

They use the tools they have "on the cheap" to get things done, but having said that 2010 was a seminal year for shark conservation and a lot got done.

S.A could see conservation gains, money could help, and yes that's one of the ideas to fund conservation, taxing the commercial side.

The issues here though are clear. Illegal take of protected animals and the lack of viable enforcement.

Solutions for this?

Surely someone has a plan.

Anonymous said...

Granted a lot did get done in 2010 and Pew paid for most of it they can not pay for all of it. Also Pew mission is to obtain a sustainable shark fishery not protect every shark in the ocean. Shark Divers want every shark they can make money from 100% protected. Governments will pass laws to achieve sustainable fisheries. I don't see anything about sustainable fishery in any of these petitions or complaints which could be one of your problems.

Horizon Charters Guadalupe Cage Diving said...

By "Shark Divers" we're assuming you mean "segments of our industry" as we do not do petitions, nor do we believe in zero take policy either.

Shark Diver long ago championed the Guy Harvey Catch and Release Tournament before it was even called that and agree that sustainable fisheries could work.

We're solution and metric based conservation folks here, which was the inspiration behind the Shark-Free Marinas which we started with $25.00 and some help from great folks in the USA and Fiji who also believe in solutions, not hype.

That being said if you are referring to the Facebook Shark Divers, don't get us started.

There's a whole lotta howling about conservation these days and a high percentage are responses to a few images here and there.

Sharks in bottles sold as tourist attractions for example. Why is this an issue when hundreds of thousands of sharks are being whacked by EU commercial fleets off the coasts of Africa right now.

We need solid metric based solutions to issues that will have impacts 5-10 years from now, not quick fixes that make little sense or that can be changed and modified when a next government comes into power.

That being said, are there ANY solutions for the inshore white shark take in S.A?

This is a S.A thing, it needs a S.A solution. What is it?