Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Protection against shark attack in South Africa, 1952-90

G Cliff and SFJ Dudley

Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43(1) 263 - 272
Published: 1992


Historically, most shark attacks in South Africa have occurred off Natal, where the water is relatively warm and where there are many holiday resorts. The first shark nets were installed in 1952. This, followed by the establishment of the Natal Sharks Board and the widespread installation of shark nets in the 1960s, has reduced the incidence of shark attack considerably. Forty-four kilometres of permanently maintained nets catch an annual average of 1470 sharks and 536 other animals, which are largely dolphins, turtles and rays. The impact of netting on both the species caught and the inshore environment as a whole is not well understood and is a cause for concern. The release from the nets of live animals, including sharks, and the removal of nets during periods of highest catches may reduce such impact. Experiments with an increased mesh size are in progress. Tests of an electrical barrier as an alternative to nets have not been encouraging but are continuing. In the cooler waters to the south of Natal, where there are no shark nets, a marked increase in the number of shark attacks has taken place in recent years. There appear to be no plans to expand the netting operations into those waters.

© CSIRO 1992

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