Let the Great Whites be, says Fish Hoek

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

Should the proposal for a shark exclusion net, to measure the size of two rugby fields, receive approval form the City of Cape Town for installation on a trial basis by October this year, Fish Hoek beach will be the proud venue with a ‘safe’ swimming area.

Exclusion nets are not the same as shark nets currently used in KwaZulu-Natal, but rather small meshed nets designed to act as a barrier to sharks preventing them from entering an enclosed area. The local economy of this coastal town only stand to benefit, since it relies heavily on tourism and business for its livelihood, and also attracts property buyers from upcountry and overseas.

Fish Hoek Beach, bordered by Clovelly and Sunny Cove on either side, has long been viewed as one of the Far South’s many gems, where it facilitates all year recreation for swimmers, marathon and triathlete trainers, and sailors. The central part of the beach, known as Hobie Beach, is home to the local Life Saving SA Nipper and Senior Lifesaving Club, as well as the Hobie Cat Sailing Club.

Three shark attacks have occurred here in the past 10 years, two which were fatal and one at Clovelly Beach last year resulting in serious injury. Although lessons of the past have taught locals to pay attention to the Shark Spotter’s flags and radio reports to ensure safe and relaxed bathing, the proposed barrier nets have been welcomed by the local business and tourism communities.

Fish Hoek made recent headlines in a public outcry when a 4m female of the endangered and protected Great White Shark species, became entangled in a rope between a whelk track and a white marker boy. This beach is also the stomping ground of Southern Right Whales during breeding and calving season from May to October every year.

But, increasingly concerns were that the recreational and social use of Fish Hoek Beach, as well as social perceptions of the beach, may have been negatively affected by the high presence of Great White Sharks within the inshore area of the bay. As a result, in 2006 the City contracted the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board to assess the potential of deploying an exclusion net at Fish Hoek Beach as a safety measure. Although at the time, it was recommended not to deploy an exclusion net for additional bather safety measures, it is currently under review by the Committee for Economic, Environmental & Spatial Planning. Other factors forming part of this proposal is to protect the natural marine environment, and to consider the rights of trek net fishermen at Fish Hoek Beach.

The town of Fish Hoek is known to offer an unbeatable lifestyle, for young and old, professional and lay person, mostly in search of property to buy at reasonable prices, or rental accommodation with sea views and close proximity to public amenities. This popular coastal retreat is well known for its Fish Hoek Mountainside area, that offers prize properties built on different levels to cater for spectacular sea and mountain views. This well established and upmarket suburban area stretches across several kilometers, from opposite Fish Hoek Beach above the main road, to a firebreak about half way up the mountain, and along the town’s centre to the Kommetjie Road intersection.

Then there is the legendary part of this town, known as the Fish Hoek Avenues, dotted with traffic circles, schools, and churches, known to attract young families with school going children as well as those looking for retirement properties.

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