White shark and other chondrichthyan interactions with the beach-seine (treknet) fishery in False Bay, South Africa

  • SJ Lamberth Marine and Coastal Management, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Private Bag X2, Rogge Bay 8012, South Africa


Public perception has been that an apparent increase in the nearshore occurrence of white sharks Carcharodon carcharias in False Bay, on the south coast of South Africa, can at least be partly attributed to beach-seine (treknet) operations attracting sharks into this coastal area. To assess the merit of these concerns, all available beach-seine catch-and-effort data from the False Bay fishery over a 32-year period were analysed. A total of 27 cartilaginous species from 15 families was recorded in around 11 400 hauls from 1974 to 2006. Most (98%) of these comprised small benthic invertebrate feeders such as smooth houndshark Mustelus mustelus and lesser guitarfish Rhinobatos annulatus. Large sharks such as C. carcharias and ragged-tooth shark Carcharias taurus were rare, occurring in <0.2% of hauls. The only medium to large sharks that occurred frequently (15% of hauls) in any appreciable numbers (0.3 per haul) were bronze whalers Carcharhinus brachyurus. The relatively high numbers of C. brachyurus compared with C. carcharias, their overlapping size distributions and the difficulty of identifying sharks from a distance, suggests that many of the sharks observed following beach-seine nets are the bronze whalers. Overall, the requency of occurrence of C. carcharias in the nets is much lower than would be predicted from the high number of observations in the nearshore region. Furthermore, beach-seine fishing rights in False Bay have been reduced from around 170 in the 1970s to five at present. There has been no corresponding decrease in shark incidents. On the contrary, shark incidents have increased from two in the 1970s to six during the period 2000–2005. Overall, there appears to be no strong link between beach-seine activity and human incidents with white sharks in False Bay.

Keywords: beach-seine catch and effort; human incidents; white shark

African Journal of Marine Science 2006, 28(3&4): 723–727

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X