Fish Hoek beach may get shark net

2012-02-29 15:48

Cape Town - Fish Hoek beach in Cape Town may get a mesh shark net to make its waters safer, the city said on Wednesday.

The 355m long exclusion net would offer a potential long-term solution to safety with little to no risk to the marine environment, said environmental planning mayoral committee member Belinda Walker.

She said the city's proposal for a trial installation at a corner of the beach would be considered by the local sub-council.

The city would then make an application to the national environmental affairs department for a research permit, allowing the trial to go ahead.

The beach has been regarded as unsafe because of three shark attacks in the last eight years.

British tourist Michael Cohen was attacked in September last year, with a shark biting off his right leg above the knee and part of his left leg below the knee.

In January 2010, Zimbabwean tourist Lloyd Skinner was pulled under the surf and dragged out to sea by a great white. His diving goggles and a patch of blood were all that remained in the water.

In November 2004, a 77-year-old woman, Tyna Webb, was taken by a shark while doing the backstroke.

The city believed the high presence of white sharks in False Bay had negatively impacted on the recreational and social use of Fish Hoek beach, as well as local tourism.

KZN Sharks Board

The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board was called in to assess the possibility of an exclusion net for the beach in 2006, but did not recommend it at the time.

Walker said it was time to re-consider.

Exclusion nets were not the same as the shark nets being used in KwaZulu-Natal.

The mesh exclusion net acted as a barrier against sharks but its holes were too small to entangle marine animals. KwaZulu-Natal shark nets were placed further out at sea and were not species selective.

The proposed area to be cordoned off would be smaller than the size of two rugby fields.

If the trial was successful, authorisation for a permanent net would have to be granted in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.

Although public participation is not required under a research permit, citizens would be consulted to raise their concerns.

The project would probably go ahead in October if approved.

Read more on:    cape town  |  environment  |  tourism  |  marine life

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