Yesterday, 29 Feb 2012, the City of Cape Town issued a press release of a proposal to trial an exclusion net in Fish Hoek Bay ( Almost immediately shark nets (as used in KwaZulu Natal) were confused with the proposal of the exclusion net in Fish Hoek. Below is a summary of the key differences. Please post your view of what you think of the City’s idea on our Facebook page and we will be sure to feed it back to the authorities.

Shark net Exclusion net
What are they? Shark nets are large-meshed, anchored gill nets Exclusion nets are fine-meshed nets and are not   gill nets
How do they work? Entangle and catch sharks reducing the population and numbers of sharks   within the environment and thereby reducing the risk of shark attack Fine meshed nets are designed to act as a barrier, physically excluding   sharks, thereby preventing them from entering an enclosed area
Layout and structure Nets are 213.5 – 304.8 m long by 6.3 m deep, have a   black mesh of 51 cm (stretched) and are set parallel to the coast in 10-14 m   of water some 300-500 m from shore. Net is set to enclose a specified area, and   stretches from the seafloor to the surface. Mesh size is 6cm stretched (3cm x   3cm on the square). Size of net is dependent on area to be enclosed.
Entanglements of marine animals Not selective and result in by-catch of a range of other marine species   such as turtles, dolphins, and whales. Risk of entanglement high The fine mesh of the nets prevents capture or entanglement of marine   species and the net acts as a barrier. Risk of entanglement low.
Ecological impact High Low
Areas where used KZN (South Africa), Australia Hong Kong, Seychelles
Additional information

One of the proposed layouts of an exclusion net in Fish Hoek (Courtesy City of Cape Town:


One of the proposed layouts of an exclusion net in Fish Hoek (Courtesy City of Cape Town:


  1. This excellent website definitely has all of the info I wanteed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  2. I am horrified at the comments I am reading, we do not need nets!!! If you want to swim in the ocean take your chances just the same way you do every time you get in a car or cross the road, low environmental impact my arse! The sharks have every right to the ocean its their habitat but our pleasure is more important???
    Your ignorance is frightening!


    • cedric walsh

      sorry the G/W is a killer we are the top race and must protect oure selves, so to do this we will put up a net. end of story.

      • Cedric, your unfounded comment is the precise ignorance that Helen refers to! Catch a wake up you old fossil! How much more destruction must man inflict upon nature for you to get your head out your ass and take note? You’re reference to a “top race” is very Nazi of you, perhaps you’re one of the few that got away and are in hiding! I think the precise words you are looking for are “top species”…and what precisely have you done to deserve “protecting” from Mother Nature?

    • Get out of here, you clown. There is no semblance of logic in your comment. So, you want us to just “take our chances in the same way as we do driving or crossing the road”? With that train of thought, you might as well argue that cars shouldn’t have seatbelts because “we should just take our chances”. Or that out in the open sea, we shouldn’t use life-jackets because “we should just take our chances”. I could go on ad nauseam. I can only hope you now realize the sheer stupidity of your comment. It’s about being able to prevent unnecessary human deaths whenever possible, so long as the cost of doing so is reasonable.

      And by the way, you also need to learn to read. A shark exclusion/barrier net certainly DOES have a low environmental impact — all does is sanction off a very tiny portion of the ocean (when you consider the rest of ocean that ISN’T enclosured) so that sharks cannot get into the beach area to kill/attack humans. I’m curious — what about this kind of net makes you think it would “ruin the sharks’ habitat”? We are NOT talking about “shark nets” here; certainly “shark nets” are destructive to many species of marine life, and they don’t even fully prevent sharks from entering the beach area! However, the topic of discussion here is an exclusion net, and for this I’m in full support as clearly there is no better alternative: keeping humans safe while simultaneously not impacting the marine environment.

      So do us a favor and go take your irrational tree-hugging ethos elsewhere.

  3. Great – long time coming – area should be larger

  4. Rudi Coetzee

    This is indeed very good news. The Hong Kong type exlusion netting is ideally suited for applications where small spilling waves are the norm. The top section normally has a square mesh (not diamond) of 35mm for the first 2m and then 100mm down to the seabed. It floats with the tide and is well anchored at the bottom. Looking at the proposed area my feeling is that it will not at all affect the local Seine fishermen.
    This is presently the only answer while we wait for the array design of the non-contact shark impulse barrier concept.
    At least we can now swim every morning (or throughout the day) in deeper water than waist deep even though the intention is to only deploy it for a few months of a year.
    One would have preferred if the proposal would have covered a 250m stretch of beach (and not just 140m). However, we understand the kelp problem and look forward to the experimetal installation!

    • Save our Cape beaches

      We would recommend at least 6 months per year – October to March.

      • cedric walsh

        Recover the costs with a charge of R20 .00 to use the protected swim area. If nparks can charge R40.00 to use bolders beach so can Fish hoek

        • Rudi Coetzee

          The Council has been raking in the parking money for many years. Unfortunately it goes into the central coffers and not to the local ward for this kind of expenditure.

  5. Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving Club letter explains the rationale and history behind the proposed shark exclusion nets for Fish Hoek Beach and asks for all those who love swimming at Fish Hoek Beach to support the project. For detailed info about the nets go to

    • cedric walsh

      Best news yet , Please make the net longer ,to the lighthouse thank you

  6. cedric walsh

    Fantastic news , have swam at fish hoek from the age of 5, now 73 years old ,but have not swam for last 5 years ,due to shark attacks, again thank you , please make the area larger .

  7. What is the estimated cost?

    • Rudi Coetzee

      If it was installed when it was first proposed by the KZN Shark Board in 2006, the cost would have been around R500k. My estimate is (City of Cape Town can obviously tell us what the have budgeted)that it would cost between R1,0 and R1,5 million.

    • Rudi Coetzee

      The cost estimate was HK$500k in 2006. I would think that this has at least doubled in the meantime (HK$1.00 = basically ZAR1.00). However, only the City of Cape Town can tell us the budgeted figure/s because they most probably will have two nets/or sections to swop out.


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