Shark nets returned to seas

2014-11-07 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board reinstated shark nets along Hibiscus Coast beaches yesterday after payment disputes were resolved.

Sharks Board operations head Mike Anderson-Reade said the gear had been put back yesterday afternoon after being removed three days prior.

“Everything is back to normal. The issues raised with the Hibiscus Coast Municipality had been resolved,” he said.

The Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department, to whom the Sharks Boards provides the shark net service, were drawn in to the debacle after the Democratic Alliance called on MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu for answers.

Department spokesperson Bheko Madlala said they were still to investigate the issue.

“We are requesting a report from the KZN Sharks Board into the matter. Once we receive a detailed report, we will be in a better position to comment,” he said.

On Monday, the Sharks Board removed all shark nets between Hibberdene and Port Edward, forcing the Hibiscus Coast Municipality to ban swimming activities.

The reason cited was the municipality was in arrears with the board.

Anderson-Reade said the Sharks Board had not received payment from the municipality for the past five months for the services of providing them with shark protection gear.

DA-MPL Ann McDonnell yesterday said the Sharks Board has effectively held the Hibiscus Coast Municipality to ransom.

“With the festive season just weeks away and this coastline an important tourism destination, the situation could have been serious.”

She said the entire debacle “represents the worst kind of crisis management”.

“The Sharks Board is a public entity with a Board which is answerable to the MEC of EDTEA. It is therefore under the management of MEC Mabuyakhulu.

“Instead, the Sharks Board was left to lift the nets, in direct contravention of both the Board Act and the Constitution.”

• The municipality made national headlines last week when its council approved establishment of a nudist beach in Trafalgar.

The Hibiscus Coast Municipality did not respond to questions from The Witness at the time of going to press.

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