FISH HOEK, 2014/02/06, The shark net crew feed the net off the trailer in a ‘sausage’ configuration to facilitate deployment and retrieval at Jagger's Walk in Fish Hoek. Picture: Adrian de Kock

Cape Town - A locally produced shark exclusion net tested at Fish Hoek beach has been “successful beyond all initial expectations”, says the City of Cape Town.

And there are plans to make the nets, which are deployed and removed daily, a permanent feature on Fish Hoek beach from this month to May.

The project, a global first, is also a finalist in the Eco-Innovation Awards, hosted by Enviropaedia.

Amy Davison, the city’s environment and planning directorate, told the portfolio committee on Wednesday that the net has proved to be highly effective.

Great white sharks, bronze whalers, hammerheads and rays were excluded from the area enclosed by the net.

There have been two fatal shark attacks at Fish Hoek since 2006 and a third attack in 2011 where the victim lost a foot.

Davison said the attacks affected perceptions of Fish Hoek beach’s safety.

The lifesaving club lost the rights to host the SA Lifesaving Championships as other clubs were concerned about their members’ safety.

During the shark net trial period from March last year to May this year, Shark Spotters recorded 39 great white sightings on 22 different days. However, none entered the exclusion zone when the net was deployed.

Furthermore, the design of the net meant it was able to withstand weather and sea conditions, and there was hardly any entanglement of birds or other fish. It was deployed 140 times during the trial, at R1 200 per use.

Davison said the project had also created nine job opportunities.

“Overall, the results of the trial indicate that the exclusion net is a cost-effective, non-lethal shark safety measure with minimal impact on marine life.”

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Cape Argus