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The KZNSB presentation was done by staff scientist Dr Sheldon Dudley and represents a marked departure from the typical under the radar misinformation that they espouse and is the first time the KZNSB have been called to account to the public by a municipality that they provide their animal killing services to. Don’t misunderstand me, they were still espousing their misinformation but it was now out of their HQ or other scientific environments with quiet acquiesive types present and no chance for robust debate.
Unbeknown to the participants there was to be no debate however, a clear departure from the reasons for calling the meeting in the first place, but as it turns out it was still gold to have the misinformation presented by KZNSB in the public domain. The irony is that they did the entire presentation to the public and made their case for the killing fields of KZN but refuse to allow the public access to the presentation or the data that misinformed it because it is apparently “unpublished data”.
KZNSB claimed, among other things, that: The Ragged Tooth Sharks caught in the nets in KZN are not the same ones that divers see on the Aliwal Shoal and thus divers and KZNSB are not in conflict and can co-exist happily:
The reality is that the Ragged Tooth sharks leave the Eastern Cape in the winter months and head up the coast to, among many other locations, the Protea Banks and the Aliwal Shoal. The normal movement of a specific size class of males and females then head further north where the raggies are encountered between Richards Bay and Island Rock. Although some males are seen in our northern waters most head back south after their Aliwal sojourn. The heavily pregnant females head south again, from Northern KZN, as late as March in some years. It is highly improbable that the animals seen in the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area are not from the same stock whose movements have been well documented and head from shelf to shore as they move north at the beginning of the season and south again at the end of the season and succumb en masse in the shark nets and drum lines. This is easily proven scientifically and is already the subject of a PHD – only KZNNSB will not part with any of their samples which would prove (or disprove) their theory. Add to this that the timeline to resolution is three months! So after 60 years of killing Ragged Tooth sharks we would know in three months – do ragged Tooth sharks not deserve this answer! Australia’s killing programme has been so successful in eradicating harmless sharks that they are now trying to breed their Ragged Tooth sharks in test tubes as they acknowledge that this species will be extinct in our life time because of their overzealous actions.
Despite the simple answer available on the truth or not of the KZNSB statement above the more likely scenario is that the effect of killing at least 6 500 raggies in the last three decades has caused a punch hole effect in the population of approximately 35 000 using the “low road” scenario.
The following relevant life history information is used in calculating this figure:
- Raggies will live 30/40 year in the wild;
- Males and females are sexually active at between 8/10 years of age;
- Females will be sexually active for 20 years;
- A female will have two pups every alternate year;
- More than 70% of the ragged Tooth sharks caught in the nets and drum lines in KZN are females;
Raggies are harmless and it is clear from the decline in Ragged Tooth shark sightings in the Aliwal Shoal MPA that KZNNSB is having a major impact on the Ragged Tooth shark population and thus divers and the KZNSB cannot coexist as the KZNSB stated in their presentation.
Sharksboard claim that the “exponential” rising trend of Tiger Shark captures in their nets is a cause for concern and a risk to bathers:
Tiger sharks are primarily scavengers. A further reality is that the tiger sharks caught in the shark nets and on the drum lines are of a size class whose dentition and jaw thickness is four times thinner that their offshore counterparts whose thicker teeth and jaws are vital to their change from the baby foods of the inshore waters to turtles and other prey more readily found offshore. The larger size class of tiger sharks encountered in the Aliwal Shoal MPA offshore reef complex moves even further offshore and out of the area at night to feed. The tiger sharks found in the offshore corridor are essentially female (99%) with the solitary males finding their way into the area for a day or two at most. The inshore catch records of the KZNSB show that there is a two thirds female and one third male capture split and almost all are less than 2.5m (pre caudal) in length – thus baby foods only. This means that their inshore diet consists of small sharks (which have proliferated inshore due to the imbalance caused by the fact that the nets have taken out all of the large sharks that regulated the smaller sharks, which in turn have decimated the inshore fish populations. This has been documented in science (published) and the findings were disturbing and highly critical of the impact the nets have and continue to have – c/f van der Elst et al.).rays and bony fish as well as any items they can scavenge.
KZNSB catch records for Tiger sharks in the Aliwal Shoal MPA indicate that most captures relate to a scavenging event and then multiple sharks are attracted to the netted installation and multiple captures ensue.
Thus the nets are attracting Tiger sharks to scavenge on the unnecessary capture of other harmless species by virtue of effectively chumming for them..
KZNSB claim that the Bull shark was their target species and offered its movement pattern into the inshore environment as unique among the dangerous sharks and the reason for their coming into existence in the first place:
The KZNSB now catch 25 or less Bull sharks a year and of these most are of a size class that is not “dangerous” (ditto the Tiger shark example above) and therefore the damage the nets are doing in persecuting a ghost of the past is not justified. The facts presented at a symposium on the fate of the Bull shark by eKZNW pointed out that less than 5% of KZN’s rivers and estuaries are available to Bull sharks for critical stages of their life cycle. This fact along with KZNSB’s assertion, at the same meeting, that they have had the single biggest impact on the Bull shark bar none having decimated the species as evidenced, in their opinion, by the dwindling numbers caught in the nets and on the drum lines.
At the public meeting KZNSB did not and would not provide information on Bull shark captures at either the Park Rynie netted installation or the Scottburgh netted installation despite the obvious importance they place on the eradication of this species from the near shore zone. Scottburgh’s Mpambanyoni river is not suitable to Bull sharks as habitat (this has been the case for over two decades) and fits into the 95% loss of habitat category. KZNSB’s insinuation at the presentation was that if you have “rivers you have Bull sharks” is clearly without foundation and not rooted in the facts of the last two decades. Of course they could always let the public know how many Bull sharks they have caught in the netted installations in these two locations and what size class. Clearly this instructive information is more damning to their cause of hanging on to a tax payer funded budget of R 53 million a year than bather safety and hence was not included for public consumption.
KZNSB claimed that the beach tourism in KZN was worth USD 1 billion annually and the province could not do without nets for bather peace of mind:
The reality is on the one hand more obvious, but never mentioned by KZNSB, and their statement mischievous at best for obvious reasons. The KZNSB position doesn’t stack up when compared to the case in Florida, USA, which has a USD 11 billion beach tourism spend and has had the most attacks since record keeping began with over 500 attacks! The most litigious society on the planet – who will sue you for serving a cup of coffee that is too hot – and no nets to kill sharks!
With a tax payer funded budget of R 53 million per year – and climbing – one can only wonder what we could do with this money on real issues.
Many other issues were covered in the KZNSB presentation and will be analysed for validity as just the few issues listed above do not stack up to scrutiny and seem to indicate that the KZNSB has been playing the public for fools. When you consider that 80% of shark attacks in KZN have happened at netted installations in the last two decades, nearly 40% of the sharks they catch are on their way “out” of a netted installation and are by no means the only sharks swimming inside of any netted installation the tax payer is funding one of the great scams of the twenty first century. The mere fact that Durban has yellow nets and the rest of the coast has black nets as well as a mix of nets and baited drumlines should indicate how experimental their intention is with the public and the marine life of our coastal waters. Watch this space.
Read More: “as the depute continues: http://showme.co.za/durban/news/the-debate-continues-validity-of-killing-sharks-dolphins/
Information and photos provided by: Mark Addison, Sijmon De Wall , Underwater , Allen Walker firstname.lastname@example.org and bluewilderness
For more information please contact Mark Addison: email@example.com