Shark warning for False Bay beaches

2012-03-29 12:43
Cape Town - Bathers have been warned of a possible increase in the number of sharks at False Bay beaches on Thursday because of high fish activity, the City of Cape Town said.

Large schools of yellowtail fish had been spotted along the coastline in the morning, which could attract sharks, disaster risk management spokesperson Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said.

Red flags, which indicated a high shark alert, had been raised at all beaches in the bay. Bathers were advised to be vigilant, obey the shark siren, and take note of a change in flags.

Shark spotters were watching the coastline.

Tensions mount

Meanwhile, Zigzag surfing magazine reports that a storm is brewing between Muizenberg beachgoers and local fishermen after the fishermen pulled out a trek net in the middle of bathers and surfers at the popular Surfer's Corner on Thursday morning.

It is the third time in less than a month that the fishermen have driven onto the beach and cast their nets from the busy shoreline, Zigzag said. The previous two incidents resulted in the beach being closed when the shark alarm was sounded shortly after the nets were pulled in.

The magazine says local surfers are up in arms over what many view as a direct danger to their lives, as they believe this could lure great whites directly to them. Along with the potential shark factor, it's also claimed the nets are dangerous because there are no buoys or markers to warn bathers/surfers, and this also contravenes Blue Flag Beach rules.

The fishermen apparently claim to have an ancestral permit that allows them to trek fish in False Bay, but there is little clarity on the details and regulations of the permit.

"We've been fishing here for 300 years, the surfers only came later," insisted one of the fisherman who would only give his name as Alfie. "When we follow the fish, the surfers and swimmers must make way for us, and then there will be no more problems."

Local surfer and business owner Ant Scholte, however, was not convinced: "Surely their permit - or any permit - could not condone any kind of fishing among all the bathers and surfers in the most populated part of the beach?"

A spokesperson for the Muizenberg Improvement District said investigations after the first incident earlier in March had found that "the trek net permit is valid". She added that "it seems ancestral rights over-rule Blue Flag Status".

Resident and business owners have demanded a meeting with authorities who issue the permits, which has been scheduled for 14:00 on Thursday at the Civic Centre in Muizenberg.

- Sapa and Zigzag
Read more on:    cape town

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