Councillors have called for shark spotter facilities to be installed along Nelson Mandela Bay’s shores.
This, despite the fact that the last shark attack in the Bay took place more than 30 years ago.
The councillors, who serve on the sports, recreation, arts and culture portfolio committee, yesterday called for a programme that would perform shark monitoring and collect real-time data to ensure a speedy response should the city be faced with a shark attack.
The requests were made during a presentation by Dr Matt Dicken of the Bayworld Centre for Research and Education to the committee.
The Bayworld Centre is responsible for investigating the distribution of great white sharks within the Bird Island marine protected area and aerial sighting of sharks in the bay.
The programme also investigates trends for tagged sharks around identified hotspots.
The purpose of the presentation was to ask the municipality to continue supporting the programme as Bayworld’s contract ends in July.
“The number of shark attacks in South Africa is increasing. Since 2010 there have been 39 incidents, 34 of these happened in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape,” Dicken said.
The latest shark attack in the Eastern Cape was in Cape St Francis last week.
“The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality markets [the Bay] as the water sports capital of the world, and that has a direct spend contribution to tourism of about R4.5-billion,” he said.
“If the municipality did not have a monitoring programme in place it would also affect events such as the Standard Bank Ironman African Championships, Splash Festival, Samrec Penguin Festival and the summer season.”
DA councillor Sharlene Davids urged the committee to instal a shark spotter programme. ANC councillor Simphiwo Plaatjies asked if the programmes could be set up to respond in real time.
“I find it interesting that you are monitoring and also picking up on shark movements along our beaches, but how do you communicate the data and how quickly?” Plaatjies asked.
Dicken said the councillors’ requests would require that the municipality employs someone to head up the initiatives.