Tagged White Shark Brenda Captured, Killed by Mozambique Fishermen
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
It has been confirmed that a 3.6 meter female White Shark tagged 8 March 2012 in Mossel Bay by the non-profit group OCEARCH and a team of leading South African scientists was captured and killed off the coast of Mozambique. Caught in a gill net, the shark given the name Brenda by the OCEARCH team was harvested by village fishermen who gave the meat to the village and sold the fins.
Chris Fischer, along with the scientists who worked with OCEARCH to tag over 30 white sharks off the coast of South Africa, were affected by the news. Said Fischer: “We were all saddened to hear of the demise of Brenda, a magnificent female great white shark.” OCEARCH waited on issuing a statement until the facts were clear. Those facts, and the recovery of the transmitter, were obtained thanks to the perseverance of a team assembled by Hannah Darrin from Eyes on the Horizon, a local Mozambique NGO, and led by Gabriel Marime of Bitonga Divers. Jess Williams, another member on the team, took photos of the recovery mission.
Marime, Darrin and Williams travelled a significant distance through remote areas to determine the details of the shark’s disappearance. They were able to retrieve the transmitter for OCEARCH and document its recovery, for which Fischer, OCEARCH and the scientists were deeply grateful.
“We appreciate the amazing efforts of Gabriel, Hannah and Jess to retrieve the transmitter and document the recovery,” said Fischer. He added: “While it is unfortunate that an animal protected in South Africa has been taken in Mozambique, her transmitter tag movements on the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker http://sharks-ocearch.verite.com have opened the eyes of the public on how very real the threat is to shark populations around the world. Tens of millions of sharks are harvested every year, the overwhelming majority of whose fate is neither tracked or revealed. The promise for sound resource management lies in the dedication and hard work of South Africa’s scientists who tagged sharks with OCEARCH and are now conducting previously impossible studies. The data they are in the process of generating is critical to the future of White sharks both in South Africa and the many areas they travel outside the region.”
Ryan Johnson, Chief Scientist for the OCEARCH tagging expeditions underscored the importance of regional cooperation: “Brenda’s capture in Mozambique was a tragic illustration of a very real truth about Africa’s large migratory sharks, that is, they do not respect national marine boundaries. For this region to effectively conserve sharks we require strong and continued regional cooperation between nations. As the regional economic powerhouse, the South African government must use this unambiguous evidence to initiate engagement with other member nations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on cooperative legislation to conserve our shared shark resources.”
Fischer is optimistic that sound policy can be enacted, understanding it will take cooperation between governments: ”Since we have this data point and we know that South Africa’s Great White Sharks are migrating into areas that include Mozambique, a regional management plan needs to be developed. This event should demonstrate it is crucial for South Africa and Mozambique to work together to protect these threatened apex predators. Also, in terms of the significance of white shark related ecotourism (particularly shark cage diving) for the economy in South Africa, it is important for the South African government to promote regional cooperation with regard to shark management, given the apparent threats to the shark population in other countries of the region.”