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Shark conversation to be reviewed by experts

Government appoints a panel of experts to assess Shark conservation efforts

A panel of experts has been appointed by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to assess the management and conservation of Sharks in South Africa. The minster, Barbara Creecy, appointed the panel of experts in response to the growing public concern for the Shark populations along the coast, the changing distribution of Great White Sharks and the increase of conflict between tourist operations and fishers. 

South Africa’s National Plan of Action Sharks (NPOASharks) was developed in accordance with the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA) and was implemented in the year 2013. However, a review of the plan in 2018 found that there were still some areas that needed improvement. 

These areas included ensuring that shark catches from direct and non-direct fisheries are sustainable, minimalising the number of accidental shark catches, and the improvement of species-specific catch and landing data and monitoring shark catching data. 

To achieve the minimum amount of waste and discards from shark catches, in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, requires that dead sharks are used completely and that sharks that have had fins removed be retained. 

The Code of Conduct also takes into consideration the direct threats to the shark populations and assesses ways to protect critical habitats and implement harvesting strategies that are not only biologically sustainable but also rational for long-term economic use. It also focuses on mainly the vulnerable or threatened shark stocks. 

The newly formed panel of experts will review the NPOA South Africa over a three month period to learn how the plan has been effective and what needs to improve. The panel will also recommend any actions that need to be taken to properly manage and conserve the various shark species found on the South African coast. The panel will also act as a guide for long term sustainable use. 

The panel is set to include nine international and local experts. 

These experts include the following:

Prof. Dr. Sven Kerwath, Specialist Scientist: Finfish (Linefish, Tuna and Sharks), Branch: Fisheries Management, DEFF (Chair),

  • Dr. Charlene da Silva, Scientist: Shark Resources Research, Branch: Fisheries Management, DEFF (Convenor),
  • Mr Saasa Pheeha, Chief Director (Acting) Marine Resource Management, Branch: Fisheries Management, DEFF,
  • Ms Sarika Singh, Scientist: Marine Biodiversity Research, Branch: Oceans and Coasts, DEFF,
  • Ms Zintle Langa, Branch: Oceans and Coasts, DEFF,
  • Dr. Kerry Sink, Marine Programme Manager and Principal Scientist, SANBI
  • Dr. Andres Domingo, Director: Large Pelagic Fisheries, National Department of Aquatic Resources, Uruguay.  Co-chair of the Subcommittee for Ecosystems and By-Catch Mitigation at International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
  • Dr. Rishi Sharma, Fisheries Scientist, FAO.  Mathematical statistician and internationally acclaimed stock assessment expert. The former head of stock assessment at the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).

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