south-africa-shark-flagNews Release

City of Cape Town

13. May 2014

——————–

City’s Fish Hoek shark exclusion net trial ends successfully

The City of Cape Town has achieved great success with its ground-breaking trial of a shark exclusion net at Fish Hoek Beach, designed to be deployed and retrieved on a daily basis. This is according to the results of the trial.

Exclusion nets have been used in other parts of the world but never before had a net been used that was designed to be deployed and retrieved on a daily basis. This method was selected by the City in 2012 in an attempt to reduce the potential impact of the net on marine life.

The trial results show that:

  • as of 30 April 2013, the net was successfully deployed 130 times, mostly on weekends and during school and public holidays. It remained in the water for an average of just over seven hours per deployment
  • during the trial period, the average time to deploy and retrieve the net was significantly reduced. It now averages approximately 40 minutes to deploy and approximately an hour to retrieve the net
  • no entanglement of sharks, whales, seals, dolphins or fish occurred during the trial. The only mortality recorded throughout the entire trial was that of a cormorant

Public support for the trial has furthermore been considerable. Many beach-goers have indicated that the presence of the exclusion net was a significant factor in their choice to use Fish Hoek Beach. In 2013, a study by the University of Cape Town’s School of Economics was initiated in order to gauge public opinion of the exclusion net. The results of this study, when made available, will be an important factor in determining the future of the programme.

A research permit was granted by the National Departments of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and Environmental Affairs (DEA) in February 2013 for the trial operation of the exclusion net.

The City, in conjunction with the Shark Spotters, was able to start trials towards the end of March 2013. The research permit, which allows the City to operate the exclusion net on a trial basis, expired on 30 April 2014.

Furthermore, the job creation aspects of the Shark Spotters Programme have increased steadily as a result of the trial. Additional job creation, training and capacity building have been achieved. Three shark spotters have now received their skipper’s licences, and have been responsible for handling the boat-based deployment and retrieval of the net. A crew of nine previously unemployed individuals has also been brought on board as part of the net team. They have become highly competent at handling the land-based aspects of the process.

Although the operation of the net will cease during the winter months, work on this initiative will be ongoing. The DAFF and the DEA will determine, in accordance with their legal mandate, whether the programme will be extended into the future to become a permanent feature of Fish Hoek Beach.

Source: City of Cape Town

Related previous posts :

22 Mar, 2013 – Cape Town begins exclusion net trial at Fish Hoek beach

20 Mar, 2012 – Report on Fish Hoek Exclusion Net

01 Mar, 2012 – Plan for Shark Exclusion Net in South African Cape