NO. 263 / 2012
30 MARCH 2012

As a result of increasing reports of conflict between trek-netters and beach users at Muizenberg Corner, the City of Cape Town has established a protocol which seeks to balance the needs of all beach users.

On Thursday 29 March 2012 the City convened a meeting between the relevant City Departments (i.e. Environmental Resource Management; Law Enforcement; Sport, Recreation and Amenities), the trek-net rights-holders, representatives from the Shark Spotting Programme and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

The purpose of the meeting was to confirm the legality of trek-netting rights and to develop standard agreed-upon inter-agency protocols to ensure that areas of user conflict are reduced or removed and the safety of general beach users is managed to the highest standard during trek-netting.

Following from the meeting the City would like to confirm the following facts:

  • Two trek-net rights-holders do in fact have the legal right, as per their permit conditions, to trek for yellow tail at Muizenberg Corner.
  • This right is restricted to yellow tail alone and does not extend to other species.
  • Both rights-holders also have a legal permit in terms of the Off-Road Vehicle Regulations to drive their vehicles onto the beach – restricted to the purpose of trek-netting.

In considering that trek-netting in Muizenberg Corner is legal, the City recognises those rights and as such has taken the position that:

  • Our coastline belongs to all user groups: in a diverse society with multiple needs, the means to appropriately and fairly share that coastline must be found.
  • The safety of our recreational users must be prioritised and acted on.
  • Clear rules and regulations must be determined and adhered to by all parties so as to reduce conflict and ensure adequate safety of all parties.
  • Existing livelihoods (in this case trek-netting) must be protected.
  • Other beach-related commercial activities, such as surfing schools, must also be considered.

As such, the City, DAFF, Shark Spotters and the trek-netters agreed on the following:

  • Prior to any trek-netting activity at Muizenberg Corner (this includes the launching of the boat), the trek-net rights-holder must inform the DAFF’s Fisheries Inspectorate Branch as well as the Shark Spotting Programme.
  • Once informed that a trek may take place, the Shark Spotting Programme will notify the relevant City departments as well as the beachfront businesses that a trek is imminent.
  • On launching of the boat, the Shark Spotting Programme will, using their standard protocol, close the beach and inform all users to leave the water.
  • Closure of the beach to water users is for two reasons:
    o There is an increased likelihood of shark activity where yellow tail are netted.
    o There is risk of water users being entangled in the trek net.
  • On completion of the trek and the landing of the fish, the Shark Spotters will re-open the beach to all users once it is determined safe from sharks.
  • In addition, the trek-netters are required, when driving a vehicle onto the beach, to have one of their staff members walk in front of the vehicle waving a flag to ensure that no person is at risk of being run over or injured.
  • The trek-netters will also be held accountable for the actions and behaviour of all of the members of their trek teams.
  • The two trek-net rights-holders made a further commitment that they will not attempt to trek at Muizenberg Corner during any sanctioned and permitted events such as surfing competitions.

These protocols will be implemented as of today, Friday 30 March 2012, but will in addition be drafted into formal written agreements between the City and the DAFF as well as the City and the trek-net rights-holders. In the event that these protocols are not followed, the DAFF will review the permits of those found to be at fault.

The Chairman of the False Bay Tourism and Business Association was invited to the aforementioned meeting, but did not attend. City representatives met with members of the community who had gathered after the meeting to brief them on what had been discussed and agreed upon.

City staff were in attendance at the beach on 28 March 2012 when large schools of yellow tail fish were shoaling along the coastline. They reported that the aforementioned system worked exceptionally well: surfers and bathers were called from the water before the net was set. The trek took no more than 90 minutes, after which all surfers and bathers were able to go back into the water. In fact, many of the surfers helped to pull the trek net in.

Finally it should be noted that yellow tail occur in Muizenberg Corner on a very limited basis with historically fewer than five treks happening per year, and during some years none at all. The City believes that it is fair and appropriate for those groups who depend on the ocean for their livelihoods to be given the opportunity to undertake their permitted activity and for other user groups to recognise and support that three to five days out of a year is very little to be asked of in terms of impacting on their rights to recreate at Muizenberg Corner.

Our coastline belongs to all of us, providing us with many opportunities, and it is imperative that we learn to share and enjoy that coastline with due respect for other groups interests and needs.



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