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Chumming for shark: Interview with Rob Lawrence

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Antoinette Booyse

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Antoinette Booyse

Author: Antoinette Booyse - 2 May 2012

Last Update: 30 January 2024

Chumming for shark for commercial shark cage diving is a highly controversial subject, with shark attack victims on the rise. The media is flooded with negative connotations associated with chumming for shark, so Dalene Ingham-Brown interviewed Rob Lawrence, owner of Cape Town based African Shark Eco-Charters, to gain insight into a pro-chumming mindset.

Pro-chumming for shark interview with Rob Lawrence:

Dalene: Why do you think people are against chumming?

Rob: People don’t know what goes on, on a shark cage diving trip where chumming for shark is involved. The media is swamped with negative opinion towards the subject. There is a great misconception about chumming. People seem to think that we put pigs blood and mammal blood in the water to attract sharks; that isn’t the case. We use snoek, skip jack and whatever other fish bait is available at the time. I’ve found that most people against chumming, haven’t even been on a shark cage diving trip before. Those who haven’t been on a trip with us before don’t know exactly what happens, how much we use, and what we use; of course they will be against chumming.

Dalene: Do you think putting up shark nets to prevent shark attacks on humans is a good idea?

Rob: I understand that the exclusion nets to be put up in False Bay will be an experimental project, however if it is run properly It could be beneficial for both sharks and humans. It is working well in KwaZulu Natal, hopefully it will work for us too.

Dalene: Does chumming for shark have an effect on shark attacks on humans?

Rob: No.

Dalene: Do you think the daily restriction of 25 kg of bait per day is reasonable for shark chumming?

Rob: Yes, it is a reasonable amount. Often I don’t even use that much when I go out for the day. It’s not like we go out with 25 kg of bait and come back with empty buckets.

Dalene: Do you think the mass chumming for Ocearch’s film-making in False Bay had an effect on the Kogel Bay shark attack?

Rob: No I don’t. If I’m not mistaken, the attack happened 3 days after the chumming for shark took place. I’m not involved in the Ocearch project so I cannot give information on the exact particulars of the project.

Dalene: Do you think that shark cage diving chumming leads to sharks associating food with humans?

Rob: You can’t condition sharks to think like that. If it were that easy to condition sharks, I wouldn’t have to close my business for a good few months of the year. Sharks have cycles, they are either there or they aren’t. They may associate boats with food, but to say that sharks associate humans with food is quite a far stretch of the imagination.

Dalene: Do you have any suggestions for preventing shark attacks in False Bay?

Rob: Well, I think the Shark Spotters have been great in reporting on shark movement. Swimmers and locals should follow the Shark Spotter program, take advice from local law enforcement officers when warned about shark activity, and they should just use their common sense.

Dalene: Why would you say shark attacks in False Bay are on the increase?

Rob: It seems to be a global trend and not just happening in False Bay. Whether it is because of environmental issues, or whether it is just because there are more people in the water, we can’t be sure.

Comment below: What is your opinion on chumming for shark and shark attacks on humans?

Chumming for shark with Rob Lawrence:

About Rob Lawrence:

Rob Lawrence is the founder of African Shark Eco-Charters. Working in the industry since 1992, Rob has acquired great experience and knowledge surrounding the behaviour of the great white shark. His passion for these misunderstood animals is what drives him, dedicated to informing, educating, and empowering individuals by sharing his knowledge.

Creating worldwide awareness from Cape Town, over the years, Rob has worked closely with film production companies like Animal Planet, BBC Wildlife, National Geographic and Discovery Channel.


POST UPDATE: 15 MAY 2012

Below, Zapiro (one of South Africa’s most popular and leading cartoonists), creates a sketch focusing on the controversial issue of chumming for shark for the pleasure of commercial tourism.

Chumming for shark: Interview with Rob Lawrence

Cartoon description and background:

With the raging debate about Shark chumming on radio and social networks and the recent death of a well-known body surfer in False Bay (Cape Town), Zapio’s cartoon equates the logic of shark chumming to the Kruger Park.


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