White Shark Conservation and Recreational Safety in the Inshore Waters of Cape Town, South Africa

Deon C. Nel and Thomas P.Peschak (Editors)
Shark Spotters Signage on Fish Hoek Beach

1. Introduction

The past four years has seen a higher than usual number of interactions between recreational water-users and great white sharks within False Bay and along the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula. Although the number of shark attacks is still very low, incidents have been followed by highly emotive media and public response. The issue is further complicated by the following factors. The objectives of recreational safety (primarily the responsibility of the City of Cape Town), white shark conservation (primarily the responsibility of DEAT) and those of the Marine Protected Area surrounding the Cape Peninsula (primarily the responsibility of South African National Parks) have not been reconciled in a single strategy. There is a lack of clarity on the roles and responsibilities between local, provincial and national authorities, and a large number of unsubstantiated theories on the cause of shark incidents have found their way into the media and public

This situation prompted the City of Cape Town, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) and the WWF Sanlam Marine Programme, to act proactively and convene a specialist workshop to guide the management of this issue. The objectives of the workshop were to:

1. Rationally and scientifically assess a range of key issues relating to shark attacks
2. To identify the key elements of a long-term strategy that will guide the management of this complex and emotive issue