Shark Exclusion Net in South Africa

Written by on February 4, 2013 in Marine Life, Policy & Ocean Law, Sharks
Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) off the coast of Gansbaai in South Africa.

Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) off the coast of Gansbaai in South Africa. Photo credit: Sheree (Here intermittently) via photopin cc.

Update – Feb 21: The Cape Times recently reported that the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department has approved the plans for a trial shark net. The net will be deployed in the coming weeks, depending on weather. The trial will run through January 2014.


Cape Town, South Africa, a place known for its great white sharks, is waiting on approval from the national environment department to deploy a trial shark exclusion net.

The net will be set in the southern corner of Fish Hoek bay, one of the most popular swimming beaches. The city has been working on deploying the net since early last summer, but the process has been slow because of ecological concerns. Specifically, many are concerned that the net will affect fishing activities, particularly the yellowtail season which peaks during the late summer.

The net is 285 meters long and will be removed every night and replaced every morning. A marine researcher will monitor and record the impact of the net on marine life and the net will not be set on days when there is an increased presence of marine life in order to make sure that no larger species become entangled.

The net will be a trial process. The moorings are in place and the net is ready to go, but setting in in the water is likely to be challenging.

“We really mean it when we say we will be trialing the net,” said Gregg Oelofse, head of environmental policy and strategy for the city. “It’s likely to be difficult. It’s a process and we’ll be learning through that.”

The net is designed not to hurt the sharks but just to keep them out of the way of beachgoers, even though the risk of someone actually being ‘attacked’ by a shark is minimal. The city notes that statistics don’t often change people’s feelings, so the net is a compromise to make people feel safer.

To learn more:

An aerial photograph of Cape Town and Fish Hoek towards the south.

An aerial photograph of Cape Town and Fish Hoek towards the south. Photo credit: Simisa.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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