March 23 2013 By SIBONGAKONKE MAMA / INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS
Its definitely safe to go back into the water at Fish Hoek beach after a new net to keep white sharks out of the swimming area was finally installed. Cape Town – It’s definitely safe to go back into the water at Fish Hoek beach after a new net to keep white sharks out of the swimming area was finally installed on Friday. The trial net, which encloses the space between the City of Cape Town law enforcement offices and Jagger’s walk and extends 300 metres out to sea, has been in the pipeline for months. It comes in response to concerns about recreational use of the beach with sharks in the bay, and the subsequent potential negative effects on local businesses.
Felicity Purchase, South Peninsula sub-council chairwoman, said the aim of the trial was to determine the efficacy of the net as a safety measure. But they would also conduct research to understand how the net would work in a variety of weather and sea conditions, and determine whether it posed an unacceptable risk to marine life. “If successful, the use of an exclusion net at Fish Hoek beach could become a permanent safety measure,” she said. But Purchase pointed out that whatever the outcome, the net would not replace the existing Shark Spotting Programme. She warned too that there could be changes to operating hours and conditions at the beach, without notice, during the course of the trial, which continues until January. “It is not possible to determine ahead of time which days the net will operate on, and for how long it will operate each day. “This decision will be made daily, based on weather and sea conditions.” Purchase said the netted area would be mainly for the use of swimmers. “No motorised or non-motorised watercraft will be allowed within the netted area. Inflatables will be permitted.” Body boards would be allowed within the netted area, but users may be asked to leave during peak periods. Purchase said it was unlikely the net would interfere with trek fishers.