Shocking stat on shark net catches

IT is with much dismay that we learned, through an item presented at the City of uMhlathuze Executive Committee meeting last week, that the shark nets at Newark Beach in Richards Bay have caught only five sharks in the past 10 years.

Over the same period, the number of dolphins that died in the same nets runs into double figures, with four snared there this year alone.

At a current cost of over R2-million per year paid for the provision, maintenance and meshing of shark nets at both Richards Bay beaches, how can this money ever be justified?

Even though the far greater expenditure would have been incurred for the nets off the main (Alkantstrand) beach, millions of rands have been wasted – and continue to be wasted – on a beach that clearly needs no shark nets.

From any angle, this is a total waste of the city’s (ratepayers’) funds.

On the one hand, the risk of shark attack is clearly extremely low.

In the past 65 years, there have been 15 recorded shark attacks along the whole of the Zululand coast, four of which were fatal – three of these involving spear fishermen.

Other than at Richards Bay, no Zululand beaches have shark nets and tens of thousands of people swim safely each year. For that matter, KZN is the only province with shark nets.

Killing sharks with gill nets (that’s what shark nets are) has proved deadly not only to dolphins, but to many other marine species.

Even a superficial understanding of conservation and ecology will show what harm the eradication of species or artificial human intervention does to the balance of nature.

Blue Flag SA stands opposed to giving that status to beaches with shark nets for the very reason they are detrimental to the marine environment.

We humans are in the unique position of being able to decide whether or not we swim in the ocean.

Sharks, dolphins, turtles and other marine creatures don’t have that luxury.

We are the intruders, not them.

While replacing shark nets with drumlines is a step in the right direction, we won’t be happy until this outdated and unnecessary form of culling is eradicated.

We have left the dark ages of conservation; let’s employ modern technology to protect bathers.

  AUTHOR
Dave Savides
Editor

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