* No sharks include human beings as regular, important prey items.
* Most shark "attacks" involve single bites as if the sharks are not particularly interested in human beings as prey.
* Shark attacks are rare: fewer than 100 occur worldwide each year, of which about 20 are fatal. In 1986, 166 people died from lightning strikes in South Africa, whereas there was only one fatal shark attack.
* There is an average of about three shark attacks each year in South Africa.
* The fin trade - dried shark fin sells for up to US$ 118/kg. There have been reports of fisherman cutting fins off live sharks and throwing the poor creatures back into the sea.
* Indiscriminate fishing - some fishing competitions are judged simply on the basis of the weight of fish caught resulting in many sharks being killed, weighed and discarded.
* Shark nets, in place along the KwaZulu/Natal coast, trap sharks and prevent them from moving. As a result they are starved of fresh, oxygen-rich water for their gills, and die.
* Environmental deterioration - the oceans have long been regarded as the planet's refuse bin and many sorts of waste have been released into them, both accidentally and deliberately. The resulting pollution, e.g. oil, pesticides and plastics, affects all life in the oceans, including sharks.
* The Natal Sharks Board is investigating alternatives to shark nets, e.g. keeping bathers and sharks separate at popular swimming sites using electrical shark barriers; equipping surfers and divers with a device that creates a protective electrical field around them.
* A national shark management policy should be developed to identify where sharks are killed, particularly as a by-catch, to establish if this need be avoided, and if so, how. In particular selective fishing methods rather than unselective methods (long lines, gill nets and trawl nets) should be investigated.
* Sports anglers should tag and release unwanted sharks, rather than killing them. Non-lethal means of determining their size for record keeping should be researched and introduced.
* Wanton cruelty and shark abuse must be discouraged.
* Do not support the unnecessary killing of sharks for trophy products such as teeth and jaws.
* Send letters of concern to the Minister of the Environment, the Natal Sharks Board, foreign embassies and sport fishing associations.
* Send letters of concern to newspaper and magazine editors, and directors of television networks that feature shark exploitation, exaggeration and misinformation.
SHARKS. J.D. Stevens. Struik, Cape Town, 1987
SHARKS AND STINGRAYS. Rudy van der Elst and Roy Vermeulen.
STRUIK POCKET GUIDES FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA. 1986.
All books available from Russel Friedman Books, PO Box 73, Halfway House, 1685. Tel. 011-7022300/1.
Dolphin Action and Protection Group. P.O.Box 22227, Fish Hoek, 7975. Tel. 021-7825845.
Sea Fisheries Research Institute. Private Bag X2, Roggebaai, 8012. Tel. 021-4023911.
Oceanographic Research Institute. P.O.Box 736, Durban, Marine Parade, 4056. Tel. 031-373536.
Natal Sharks Board. Private Bag 2, Umhlanga Rocks, 4320. Tel. 031-5611017.
South African Anglers Union. 33 Crake Street, Florida Lake, 1710. Tel. 011-841820.