An “environmentally-friendly” type of shark net is going through a trial run off the coast of Fish Hoek, South Africa, according to a BBC report. The trial run is a response to shark attacks in the region, which is well-known for its great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) population. While other regions of South Africa have already been using shark nets, the net system being deployed in the Western Cape offers a new approach to shark nets.
“Traditional” shark nets, which consist of anchored gills nets, have been controversial in the past, due to their indiscriminate nature of trapping various forms of marine. Traditional shark nets deployed in Durban, SA are responsible for killing “600 sharks and other sea creatures” over the past year, according to some claims. Additionally, some opponents question the effectiveness of these types of nets in preventing shark attacks.
The nets being deployed at Fish Hoek, however, were co-opted with conservation group Shark Spotters who are helping to coordinate the trial of what are described as environmentally-friendly “barrier nets.” These nets are designed with a small mesh size with the intent of preventing marine life from being trapped in the nets. The nets are deployed in the morning and removed at night to further reduce the impact on the marine ecosystem.
The Western Cape region generates an annual $2.2 billion in tourism. While the task of deploying and removing environmentally-friendly barrier nets on daily basis may seem like an expensive undertaking, proponents of the program believe it’s a worthwhile investment.
On a related note, Africa Check has offered up some commentary noting some “glaring errors” in the initial BBC article on South Africa’s new shark nets.