Shark Free Chips Insight from Parliamentary Questions

Important points:

  • What is the court case outcome (9th December)?
  • Why rays are not considered per species? The permit says catches should be categories per species (“counter, weighted and sorted”). There are different species specific conservation categories by IUCN, so why are rays not important?
  • Out of curiosity, to really show how bad managed things are, an interesting part of the permit says (I just noticed now): “The permit Holder may harvest only the amount of fish allocated to it in terms of the total applied effort (TAE) allocated to it”. The problem is that TAE is about number of vessels, not amount of fish caught.

And now the really important ones:

  • That boat, besides being caught fishing inside a MPA, it was caught by DEFF landing not allowed species: 42 kg Cape Gumards, 68 kilos of the endangered kob. So has this been added to the court charges?
  • 646 Smoothound sharks caught of a total weight of 2357 kg thus 3.6 kg average per specimens. They don’t say but to make sense those figure must be referring to gutted and beheaded, otherwise it means they are killing all recruits of the species.
  • 96 Soupfin sharks caught of a total weight of 895 kg thus 9.3 kg average per specimens. If beheaded and gutted that means that boat in one trip killed around 100 large breeder of a Critically Endangered species which is kept as targeted. DEFF is basically allowing something very similar to happy to allow hunters to go in the Kruger to target and kill 100 black rhinos in a single trip!!!
    • Furthermore, I quote DEFF’s stock assessment of the species: The slot limit was designed as a precautionary conservation method to restrict catches to medium sized sharks only to protect juveniles and animals larger than 7 kg (approximately 130 cm). That means all these animals should be illegal in the future.
  • When we look at the above figures and the suggested results of the stock assessments for the two demersal shark species, we find a striking evidence of why we believe things are not managed properly at all. If we consider that trip as representative of one average DSL vessel trip:
    • DEFF suggested yearly maximum catches for soupfins is 100 tons per year to start recovering by 2024. We need to consider that DSL contribute only ~20% to all fishery catches for this species (thus its max yearly catch should be 20 tons. That means that based on that, the whole DSL industry can afford only 22 trips max per year (20t divided by 895kg per trip). If you consider 6 permits, it would mean that each vessel should go out not more than 4 trips per year, or one trip every 3 months which we know it is not realistic. But even if we considered only 2 used permits (the main active vessels), it means each boat should go out not more than 11 trips per year, or not even 1 trip per month, which is still not what is happening. So here we have the proof that even when DEFF says the DSL does not have a big impact on this species we know by simple math that if we consider only 2 trips per month (being generous), that DEF is allowing a fishery impacting more than double what should be allowed for recovery of a Critically Endangered species (so much for best managers in the world).
    • When we apply the same thinking to smoothound sharks, 75 t recommended annual catch to have a slow recovery, added to the DSL contributed 5 times more than all other fisheries, it means the DSL should catch 62.5t per year. In case of 6 permits it means a maximum of 10.4 trip per year per vessel which means not even once a month. Again we have similar results that this fishery is not well managed as it is impacting at least twice as the recommended impact by fishery researchers which means DEFF managers are not using properly numbers or at worse are ignoring their own fishery scientists’ recommendations.