“Trek netting” as the locals call it, is done by means of a beach-seine net which is deployed from a row boat. This form of fishing is predominately practiced during our summer months at well known “trek netting” beaches.
It is a traditional form of artisan fishing in the local community and some members of the “trek netters” have been intertwined in it for generations. It is very much a historical part of “Capetonion” culture.
Men will begin their fishing day early before the sun has risen, bringing their boat onto the beach in anticipation for a productive and successful day ahead. Whilst they sit on the beach waiting and watching, they will only leave the shore if signaled to by a “spotter” that sits high up against the mountain side or an elevated position from the beach, giving him a bird eye view of the shoals of fish in the bay. The “spotter” communicates with a method of flag waving in a particular manner and motion that the fisherman on the beach understand and can see.
Once a shoal has been spotted the men dash to their boat and eagerly row out to sea. Constantly watching the “spotter” and his commands. The success of their catch solely depends on solid communication between the “trek netters” and the “spotter”. Once they are on the shoal, the “spotter” indicates with his luminescent green flag that the men may drop their net. Just as they drop the net, the fishermen furiously row back to the shore in order to close the two ends of the net off, thus trapping the fish inside.
All by catch is released into the sea, the most common by catch being crabs, however rays, skates, small sharks and other marine life may also get trapped in the net. All of which is released as the net is brought up onto the shore. The entire team pulls the net onto the beach and within minutes the shoal can be seen in the waves. Crowds of people come down to watch the “pulling of the nets” which is often what it is referred to when listening to conversations on the beach. Children especially love this event as they get to see the many sea creatures which they have only seen/learnt about in textbooks, I know when I was younger I was one of this children that was first in line to see what was being brought up.
In this instance a shoal of Yellowtail was brought up in this net with a few crabs. About 60-100 fish in total averaging 7kg. People are able to buy fish straight from the trek netters themselves, however it mostly gets taken away to be sold to local fisheries.
It is a must see experience to do in Cape Town. I always grateful to be a local and experience this event so often and so close to home. Despite there being methods and ways that I may disagree with, it is never the less a truly unique event to witness. I am sure as time progresses, technology develops us and as our population continues to soar, I think in time this will like with many traditional ways become a thing of the past.