Conservation

SHARK REPELLENT CABLE

 

The KZNSB received a permit from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to test the shark repellent cable. The cable, 100 metres long is currently being tested in Cape Town. It is installed parallel to the shore at Glencairn beach since October 2014 and is activated on certain days during daylight hours.

The cable emits a low frequency pulsed electronic signal, which has been shown to repel white sharks. If successful, it will provide the basis to develop a barrier system that can protect bathers without killing or harming sharks or any other marine animals.

Background

The KZNSB has long been investigating the use of new technology to provide alternatives to its current programme of shark nets and drumlines deployed along the KZN coast. The organisation has a legal duty both to protect bathers against shark attack in the province and to minimise the environmental impact of its operations. Technology developed by the KZNSB in the 1990s is already used in the Shark Shield personal shark repellent device that divers and other water users in several countries wear to reduce their risk of shark attack.

A major investment by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DEDTEA) has enabled the KZNSB to undertake further research and development of this technology. In 2012, the Institute for Maritime Technology (IMT), a Division of Armscor SOC Ltd, in Simon’s Town was contracted to design and build a demonstrator cable. The specialist engineering and technical team at IMT first built a short cable that was tested for sea-worthiness. After medical evaluation showed that the electronic pulse emitted was expected to be well within conservative safety limits, a full-length demonstrator cable was constructed.

The system is now being tested in open water. The experiment has the full support of DEA, SanParks, the City of Cape Town, SharkSpotters and other stakeholders.