Baited shark fishing lines 1 km offshore St Francis Bay

(By Bev Mortimer)

In a shock announcement it has been revealed that 3 kms of  baited fishing lines have been found just 1 km off of St Francis Bay’s popular beaches.

The shark baiting nets and hooks were spotted by the NSRI and local shark experts this morning just 1 km off St Francis Bay’s main beach.

And the find horrified the search party particularly since many visitors and holiday makers are still swimming in the sea off St Francis’ packed beaches daily. Yesterday a shark came within 100 metres of locals and holiday makers in the surf.

The same shark or different ones were spotted from the Kromme River mouth yesterday right up to Granny’s pool. Plus a shark was sighted in Cape St Francis.

Following a recent discovery of loads of shark fins near Oyster Bay it was initially feared at that perhaps the sharks fins are cut off and the sharks are thrown back into the water to become fodder for other sharks and predators of the sea. In 2006 St Francis Chronicle reported on the practice of chumming off St Francis Bay.

The following day after the report, a Sunday, 15 year-old Stuart Duffin from St Francis Bay was attacked by a hungry ragged tooth shark and had to have 43 stitches. Calls to have coast guards in our area to prevent chumming and abalone poaching were intensified by six years later there are still no coastal guards patrolling our shores regularly.

According to Marc May NSRI commander of Sathe NSRI Station 21 in St Francis Bay who was among the search party this morning, “It is not right that these people come here  to carry out shark fishing so close to the beaches when we have visitors and locals enjoying the warm sea water and having a great time on the St Francis beaches.

The visitors are taking advantage of the lovely January weather and owing to the late start of schools In Gauteng. Many visitors and holiday makers are still swimming in the sea daily.

May says following the sighting sharks in St Francis Bay ( that is a rare occurrence) a reconnoitre tour guided by Kouga law enforcement led to the NSRI, local shark epxerts and law enforcement officers to search the bay of St Francis this morning from first light. The search found many buoys and shark baiting equipment in are a 1 km off shore.

As most of the hooks dangled underwater it was difficult for the party members to to see how many shark had been caught but at least one shark was spotted dangling from a hook..

The find was reported to the Kouga law enforcement and perlemoen poaching bodies, plus to the Port Elizabeth Port authorities as a PE registered boat is undertaking the sharking baiting activities. It was later determined that the fisherman, Marius van Heerden has a valid shark fishing permit and is entitled to fish anywhere.

A report was also be sent to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), plus to the department of Fisheries, and to Marine and Coastal Management bodies.

See related post (yesterday):

https://stfrancischronicle.com/2012/01/12/shark-sseen-at-st-francis-bay-and-cape-st-francis-this-morning/

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