Bitou beach goers safe from sharks
Bitou Municipality signs MOA with Shark Spotters
SOUTH AFRICA: A three-year contract with the Plett Shark Spotters Non-Profit Organisation will see 14 spotters employed to keep beach goers safe on Bitou’s Blue Flag beaches.
The Bitou Municipality Council will contribute an amount of R800,000 towards the employment costs of the 14 Plett Shark Spotters on an annual basis for a period of three years.
The Plett Shark Spotters has been established through a partnership with the Municipality, Plett Shark Action Group (PSAG) and the Cape Town Shark Spotters in November 2022.
It has been successfully recording shark sightings and has been well integrated into existing beach safety programmes, working together with Municipal Beach Control, Lifesavers and the NSRI.
Bitou Executive Mayor, Cllr. Dave Swart has expressed happiness at the resolution.
Cllr Swart said: “The Shark Spotters’ program is necessary to advise on bathers’ safety to make them aware of any shark activity.”
He said the council already funds the lifeguards working on the various beaches and the further funding of the program was another way that the municipality was empowering locals.
“With the message going out that we have a safety program in place that protects bathers it makes anyone using our beaches, whether locals or tourists, feel safer,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sarah Waries, who is Chief Executive Officer of Shark Spotters says the positive step comes as the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has released a commission statement on shark bite mitigations.
“They do not recommend that people use lethal control anymore and that they work towards non-lethal and sustainable methods.
“This is really great that Plett is joining world leaders in sustainable shark safety as per the IUCN directives.”
Speaking on the memorandum Waries said that she was grateful for the donation however more help was needed.
“We still need to raise more money, so we call on local businesses and individuals to come on board to support Shark Spotters.”
She said beyond the safety aspect, the Spotters bring years of experience working on research on sharks, marine conservation, and education,” she added.
Chairperson of the Shark Committee Jaco Kruger lauded everyone involved.
He said: “It’s a momentous achievement for everyone involved, and it’s a huge effort from all the role players that the MOU has been signed as it is a huge benefit to the town.”
Plett Tourism’s Patty Butterworth said it nearly being summertime Plett Tourism looks forward to welcoming locals and guests to enjoy the sunshine and some of the best beaches in the world.
She said she was very excited about the contract between the municipality and the Shark Spotters and is confident this relationship will be beneficial for the town.
“We understand that interactions between sharks and humans happen in a variety of places, and we as a town try our very best to reduce conflict between marine life and humans.”
Butterworth said early warnings, the Shark Spotters provide important information on shark sightings and their behaviour patterns.
PHOTO SOURCE: Shark Spotters Facebook Page