The seaside suburb of Fish Hoek with its family friendly beach has long been a popular destination for all ages. But sadly, Fish Hoek beach has become internationally renowned as a place to avoid - thanks to the dramatic rise in great white shark sightings and three well publicised, serious shark attacks in recent years.
The two fatal attacks together with the most recent attack which left the victim permanently without a limb have caused a drop in tourism to the town which has always relied quite heavily on income generated by beach loving families visiting especially in the summer season. In addition, Fish Hoek lost out on the chance to host the 2011 SA Lifesaving Championships due to the perceived risk to participants.
Fish Hoek 'Nippers' on the beach
As a regular swimmer at Fish Hoek myself I know that my enjoyment of the waves has been seriously curtailed after the recent attacks and although they haven't kept me out of the sea I certainly stay very much closer to shore and don't ever completely relax when I'm having a dip.
The proposed use of shark exclusion nets over summer months could be the answer Fish Hoek needs.
These nets are not the same as the shark nets used in Durban, KZN, which pose a threat to the well being of sharks, dolphins and other marine life.
The exclusion nets will only be used to protect one small, triangular swimming area and will be regularly removed and cleaned out. There are to be two nets (one in use, one being cleaned and serviced) made from nylon mesh. They are the same type of nets as those used successfully in 32 beaches in Hong Kong since 1996. Together they will cost around R725 000 and the funds will be raised from beach car parking tariffs.
The well run Shark Spotters programme will remain in place, and the SA Whale Entanglement Network will have a special team on 24-hour standby in case of problems.
It is understood that the future use of the nets will re-discussed after the initial trial period this summer.
What do you think about the use of shark exclusion nets at Fish Hoek beach?