27 October 2005

South Africa: Surfer says chumming brings sharks closer

Shark victim Stiaan van Zyl believes shark cage-diving boats, which throw out bait to attract the predators, are partly to blame for his attack.

Van Zyl, 20, of Brackenfell, who is in Groote Schuur Hospital after surgery to his foot where the shark bit him, said on Tuesday that the boats often operated just behind the breakline about 200 metres from shore.

"For about the past two years they've been coming in close - not all the time, they come and go.

"I heard their permit says they must stay around the islands, but they don't and no one checks up on them. If they come closer, the sharks come closer," he said.

Van Zyl was attacked on Saturday while standing in chest-deep water at Uilenkraalsmond east of Gansbaai. He had one hand on his surfboard, facing out to sea waiting for a wave, when the shark attacked him from behind.

After fighting off the shark he got to shore on his board and was flown to Groote Schuur.

Van Zyl said he and his surfer friends had been wanting to do something about the cage diving boats coming close inshore for some time, but did not know how to go about it.

"Now I've got an opportunity to get it out in the open. It's such a big industry and they've got such a lot of money, they can afford the best people so they've always got an answer.

"I don't say they are to blame for all shark attacks, but because they come close inshore with their boats and their bait, the percentage of attacks is higher than if they were not there," Van Zyl said.

Mariette Hopley, chair of the Great White Shark Protection Foundation, established by shark cage diving operators, said while it may appear from the shore that the shark boats come to just behind the breakline, they did not.

Marine and Coastal Management's regulations stipulated the co-ordinates in which the operators could work, to keep them away from populated beaches, she said.

Operators were allowed 25kg of shark bait a day to lure sharks to the boats, but were not allowed to feed them.

"It has been proved that boat-based chumming does not stimulate sharks to associate food with humans," she said.

Van Zyl will be discharged on Friday and will be on crutches for several weeks.

Source: www.iol.co.za


At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Think They Should Raise a Fund to put up shark nets around Cape Town. I mean they have got them everywhere on the major beaches in other parts of the world why not in Cape Town.


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