A few years ago, the population of Great White Sharks in False Bay, South Africa were estimated to be between 300 and 500. Now they have almost completely disappeared, and the absence of these predators is causing a major misbalance in the local marine ecosystem. This absence could potentially be caused by orcas, aka ‘Killer Whales’, one of the biggest predators of Great White sharks. Two migrating killer whales could kill up to 7-8 sharks in a single night to eat their nutritious liver.
Another culprit could be the industrial practice of longline fishery, wherein fishermen target bottom-dwelling species by placing kilometers of fishing line across the ocean floor, bolted down with hooks. While South Africa has had legal protections for great white sharks for 30 years, the increasing demand for shark meat (called ‘flake’) in the fish-and-chips industry in nearby Australia has caused poor management and haphazard growth of the fishing industry in South Africa, including bending and breaking of the law.
The number of the sharks’ prey, seals, has grown to an unsustainable amount, putting pressure on marine vegetation and small fish. Some activists are calling for Australians to pay more attention to what they eat, and for the South African government to bring in longline fishery into South Africa’s larger and better-regulated fisheries.Some activists are calling for Australians to pay more attention to what they eat, and for the South African government to bring in longline fishery into South Africa’s larger and better-regulated fisheries.