The email message I received was cryptic; “Hi Alan, There are two tugs (thugs) terrorising 2 whales in the harbour. I am watching this from the deck of your yacht club. Not a good image to project.”
On the strength of this e-mail the Apprentice Longhair and I decided to go to the Chartroom for lunch and have a look at these two Humpback whales cavorting in the harbour. Maybe cavorting is not the right word as Humpbacks can weigh 25 – 35 tons and, as Rainer said when he saw the photograph of a Humpback surfacing right next to the NSRI’s Rescue 6 Alpha; “That whales tail must be touching the sea bed so the NSRI are extremely lucky that it did not have more sea room to breach properly!”
Ocean Messengers representative, Rainer Schimpf went on to say; “Transnet jeopardised the lives of the NSRI volunteeers by asking them to assess the situation. If marine mammals are within the harbour any shipping must be stopped. Logic says that Transnet would defer to local operators who have whale watching permits and expertise such as Lloyd Edwards of Raggy Charters or myself as representative of Dive Expert Tours, either of whom would be able to give further advice. I can confirm that I have not been contacted by Transnet up to now. As part of our permit conditions we may approach whales no closer than 50 metres and all other shipping has to stay 300 metres away from whales.”
“To send tugs out to ‘herd’ the whales so that shipping may continue is strictly against the law of the country,” concluded Schimpf.
Feike Management Managing Director, Shaheen Moola said; “Regulation of activities pertaining to whales are in accordance with Government Notice R.725: Marine Living Resources Act (18/1998): Regulations: Management of boat based whale watching and protection of turtles. Regulation 3 prohibits harassing whales or using a vessel closer than 300m from a whale without a permit. Essentially the conduct as described would amount to harassment and be a violation of the 300m rule. Both are criminal offences.”
The Regulations state that any person who contravenes Section 3 shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding R300 000 or to imprisonment for a maximum period not exceeding two years.
See the images of the two Humpbacks in the Port Elizabeth harbour below:
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