Saturday, June 11, 2005

No bounty hunting will be tolerated!

THE great white shark which killed a Cape Town spear fisherman on Sunday was spotted yesterday dragging the buoy to which its victim had fixed a hooked line to secure his catch.
The 20ft shark that claimed the life of Henri Murray was seen by men fishing from rocks at Simon's Town and Kalk Bay, two Cape Town suburbs on False Bay, west of the city.

Some of the fishermen said the shark was also trailing a spear gun, suggesting that Mr Murray's diving companion, Piet van Niekerk, had successfully shot the fish in an attempt to save his friend.
There were growing calls yesterday for an end to the protected status that great whites have enjoyed in South African waters since 1990.

Godfrey Mocke, the manager of Swimsafe, an organisation lobbying for greater safety at sea for South Africa's growing populations of divers, surfers, swimmers and rowers, said it was time to allow shark "bounty hunts", similar to those operated off the coast of South Australia.

American game fishermen have offered the Western Cape area government £275,000 a shark to be allowed to fish for great whites.

Mr Mocke said "bounty hunts" would thin out the great white population which has grown over the past 15 years and allow a three-mile stretch of water at False Bay to be made totally safe for swimming.

He was supported by Edward Haysman, South Africa's champion spear fisherman, who has himself been attacked by a great white and no longer dives off certain parts of the coast where the shark populations have noticeably increased.

But Grant Fallows, one of the country's leading shark conservationists and wildlife photographers, condemned the calls to renew great white hunting. "It's astounding and disgraceful that there is such a lack of understanding of our marine predators," he said.

"Our great white sharks are seen as an incredible asset by international tourists."


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