According to a press release from the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), fisherman Leon Bekker has been found guilty of illegally catching and landing a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) by the Mossel Bay Magistrate’s Court. Bekker was reporteddly sentenced to either a fine of R120,000 (approximately $13,500 or 10,000€) or twelve month prison sentence (suspended for five years).
Bekker was found guilty of having “caught, landed, and disturbed” the protected shark species in March of 2011. The verdict marks the first time in the history of South Africa’s courts that someone has been convicted of violating the protection legislation of the great white shark.
According to the press release, The DAFF “welcomes the verdict and stiff sentence” and hopes it will serve to deter others who might be contemplating catching or disturbing South Africa’s protected species.
In October of 2011, Bekker was identified by the Cape Times as the fisherman seen posing with a great white shark, which had been landed on the rocks at Beacon Point, Mossel Bay. Oceans Research issued a press release on the catch, which included photos taken by researchers Enrico Gennari and Ryan Johnson that documented the shark being caught and dragged onto the rocks. Bekker was also photographed posing with the shark after it was landed.