South Africa, concerned at the dwindling number of great white sharks in its waters, will become the first country to outlaw all catches except for research purposes, Environment Affairs Minister Louis Pienaar said Thursday.

Environmentalists have long asked for such legislation, which Pienaar said will be implemented within four weeks.The minister, noting commercial fishermen and trophy hunters were increasingly concentrating on the great white, said in a statement the present "indiscriminate and vindictive" hunt for the creatures could not be tolerated.