A spotter waves his flag to direct fishermen to a shoal of yellowtail offshore
by GARTHKING / Echo Newspaper 23/03/2012
The South Peninsula Sub-council on Monday unanimously voted in favour of a “shark exclusion ‘zone” trial at Fish Hoek beach. Referring to the document “Efficacy
of Exclusion Nets as a Safety Device for a Cape Beach – Proposed Trial Installation
of an Exclusion Net at Fish Hoek Beach,” Gregg Oelofse, head of the environmen-
tal policy and management department, said at the sub-council’s monthly meeting
at the Fish Hoek civic centre that “four important points needed to be made”:
• “It’s not a net like they have in KwaZulu-Natal and it’s not a permanent
fixture. We will not use any safety measures that can cause any harm to the
marine environment. This is no fatal measure. These small-mesh nets were
used in Hong Kong for 20 years and there is no record of entanglements
there,” he said.
• Fish Hoek is a marginal area for the net because of the swells, high winds,
tidal action and the presence of kelp. The nets will only be deployed when
conditions are favourable and only when shark activity is present, notably in the
summer months. He noted that in October 2011 great
white sharks were spotted 55 times. “On each of these occasions the siren was
sounded and this resulted in the beach being virtually unusable during that
• No City of Cape Town department . has budgeted for this installation and its
maintenance. Funding mechanisms need to be found.
• “Our main concern is the safety of children, particularly the nippers.
“Adults must exercise their own responsibilities. ”
Reacting to the report, sub-council chair Felicity Purchase offered her con-
gratulations to Mr Oelofse for the quality and scope of the report.
Referring to funding mechanisms for the device, she said:
“We need to look at ring-fencing the beach parking fees. We could double the
income from this ‘source. This offers a long-term solution to a serious chal-
lenge. Use of the beach is closely connected to our economy and the exclusion
zone project has my full support.When the proposal was put to the sub-council,
they unanimously accepted it,” she said.
• Part of Mr Oelofse’s report noted that the shark spotters’ programme
would remain, and that “should measurable and significant ecological impacts
arise as a result of the net and which cannot be mitigated, the net would be
removed and the project discontinued”.
The report also noted. that “the net will be removed during the peak months
of the whale season”. .