A view from above the shark spotters hut in Fish Hoek showing the bay and where the shark nets are going to be. Picture: Brenton Geach.

It might still mean a few months of baking on the beach at Fish Hoek, but come January it’ll definitely be safe to go back into the water.

That’s when the popular family beach will get its trial shark exclusion net, designed to address high shark activity in the area which was negatively affecting tourism-related business.

The net was to have been installed next month, but this had been delayed to January, the city’s head of environmental policy and strategy, Gregg Oelofse, has confirmed.

The original installation date of next month was to have coincided with the peak shark season, and the start of warmer weather.

Three shark attacks – two of them fatal – have occurred at Fish Hoek since 2004.

Oelofse said a permit for the trial, required from the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department, had yet to be issued.

He said the city was consulting trek net fishers who had permits to fish in the area, to determine what impact the net would have on them.

This week the city warned beachgoers that shark activity would start increasing from now.

Shark sighting figures provided by the city for a six-year period indicate that shark sightings at Fish Hoek and St James beaches peak in October. At Muizenberg, activity peaked in December.

The net trial is expected to run for a year, and aims to determine whether the nets make the beach safer, whether they affect other marine life and ecologies, and what impact they have on trek net fishermen.

The initial plan involved creating a safe space, the size of about two rugby fields, for recreational use and for use by the lifesaving club. The net would start just off Jager Walk, running diagonally for about 350m to the law enforcement offices on the beach.

But Oelofse said changes had been made to the original plan since the February announcement. Now the net was

- Weekend Argus