Monday, October 3, 2016

An Overview of the SA Shark Cage Diving Sector

On 14 September 2016, Feike provided a presentation to the Southern Africa CITES Shark & Ray Conservation Symposium on the economic importance of white shark shark eco-tourism as opposed to consumption-based shark harvesting fisheries. 

The data that follows is an adaptation of my presentation to the CITES Symposium. 

The South African shark cage diving sector was started in the 1990's by a group of entrepreneurs who identified the opportunities of taking tourists out to sea to experience white sharks in their natural environments. South Africa's white shark eco-tourism sector attained international attention shortly after the Discovery Channel produced "Air Jaws" which documented the "flying" great white sharks of the False Bay. This documentary featured Chris and Monique Fallows of Apex Predators, which is a leading white shark cage diving tour operation based in Simonstown, Cape Town. 

Feike is the legal adviser to the South African Great White Shark Protection Foundation, which represents 11 of the current 13 white shark cage diving operators. 

The SA white shark cage diving industry is regulated by the Dept of Environmental Affairs under the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998. All of the 13 operators are presently conducting their businesses  in terms of permits that are valid until August 2017. A permit re-allocation process is scheduled to take place before that date.  

The SA shark cage diving industry is relatively small in size, highly regulated and concentrated in two centres in the Western Cape, namely the False Bay and at Kleinbaai outside of Gansbaai. Of the 13 operators, 8 are located in the tiny harbour of Kleinbaai and 3 operate out of Simonstown in the False Bay. 

The SA white shark cage diving sector carries out an average of between 200 dive trips per annum (False Bay operators) and 375 trips per annum for Kleinbaai operators. The operators employ over 100 people directly. And the industry generates an estimated gross turnover of ±R60 million with sector expenditure at ±R48 million. 

For more information about South Africa's Great White Shark Protection Foundation and who its members are please visit its website at