STATEMENT BY THE KWAZULU-NATAL MEC FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, TOURISM & ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS: MS NOMUSA DUBE-NCUBE (MPL)
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs: Ms. Nomusa Dube-Ncube (MPL)
Foreword by the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs:
It has always been the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and my aspiration for the Board of KZN Sharks Board to operate outside the parameters of the National Industry Policy Action Plan, the New Growth Path, National Development Plan and the Provincial Growth & Development Strategy which all seek to energize the performance of our various sectors of our economy. The reality is that, Sharks Board’s business is now symbiotically linked to other sectors of the economy and if we want the KZN Province to increase its market share of both domestic and foreign tourists, we have to acknowledge the role of the Board in ensuring that our beaches are clean and safe to ensure that KwaZulu-Natal becomes the preferred destination for visitors.
It therefore becomes essential that members of the Board and Management are both familiar with the content of all economic policies and strategies directed at making KwaZulu-Natal the darling of the Local and International investors and tourists. In view that we want to increase the number of domestic arrivals to be approximately more than 24 million by 2030 and create a sustainable number of jobs by 2020, both Board Members and Management of this Entity couldn’t afford not becoming conversant with the content of the Provincial Tourism Master Plan which is the province’s road map of what we want to achieve in terms of tourism related economic development. Aligned to the National Tourism Strategy, the Master Plan highlights the importance of our coastline as one of the key attractions that require special attention to ensure that we remain the preferred destination for both domestic and world tourists.
Domestic Development, Job Creation and KZN Provincial Outlook:
It is estimated by the World Travel and Tourism Council, therefore that SA's tourism industry provided jobs for more than 700 000 people in 2018 year and contributed in the region of R139 billion Rands (2.8% of GDP). In KwaZulu-Natal, tourism is one of the most important economic sectors employing approximately 200,000 people and contributing almost R10 billion Rands to GDP. Beach tourism is a major attraction, which is only made possible through the activities of the KwaZulu-Natal sharks Board bather protection programme in providing public confidence in the safety of KZN beaches against shark attack. As such, the income generated through tourism more than compensates for the financial cost (approximately R109 million Rands) of the KZN Sharks Board program, of which 30% is covered by municipal meshing fees. Indeed, the cost of the operations is less than 1% of the revenue generated by tourism in the province making it an extremely cost-effective programme.
The Role of KZN Sharks Board Locally, Nationally and Internationally:
In recent years the role of the Sharks Board has evolved to respond to changes in the province’s economy – with the institution’s operations becoming complementary with the functions of other entities, especially Tourism KZN.
While the primary objective of the entity is to guarantee the protection of bathers from potential shark attacks on the KZN coastline through the installation and maintenance of shark safety gear, it continues to undertake marine related research initiatives on the life patterns of various sharks.
KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board can no longer afford to be an obscured, elitist entity that only survives on the largess of the state. Armed with its unique experience and wealth of knowledge in the marine life, the organization has to assert itself and begin positioning itself as an active contributor to the economy of the Province. It should become the visible and respected centre of marine and maritime research by forging meaningful partnerships with academic and research institutions in the country and abroad.
If we embrace the idea that South Africa has ten provinces – with the ocean being our additional province whose inhabitants, the marine life have to be protected and nurtured for sustainable development, the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board becomes one of the most indispensable state agencies in advancing public awareness about the importance of our coastline as a National Asset.
In previous recent years, the KZN Province hosted a number of conferences that focused on the economic opportunities available in the maritime industry with its diverse sectors and sub-sectors – and the gathering reminded us how little we know about the wealth of career and business opportunities that are not being accessed by the majority of our people in this industry despite that we are a coastal Province. Through improved collaboration with various role players in the marine and maritime industries, research and academic institutions, Sharks Board could immensely contribute towards transforming socio-economic psych of our people to consider pursuing career and business options in both the marine and maritime sectors.
The ocean not only does it transform socio-economic psych of our people, but, it also generates most of the oxygen we breathe, helps feed our families with sea life which provides nutritious ingredients for our healthy bodies, our climates are regulated through the oceans, offers us a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines, it provides and cleans the water we drink, the rain that we see, is caused by the moister to the atmosphere from the ocean, and the very same rain helps grow our vegetation, and it also provides us with limitless inspiration.
KZNSB’s Catalytic Project called Shark Repellent Cable (SRC)
The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (KZNSB) has pursued and embarked on the development of an environmentally acceptable Electronic Shark Repellent Cable (SRC) as a shark attack mitigation measure.The development of this technology started with the following program of development being conducted.
- Build and test a simple electronic cable design system to establish if it was safe for human exposure and if it repelled white sharks. Secondary shark species;
- Build and test a Pilot Study System, to be tested at an appropriate white shark test site for the duration of a shark season;
- Dependant of the market acceptance of the technology and results of the pilot study the commercialization of the product for the international market would commence.
This system has been developed, tested and delivered to the KZNSB. The plan is to deploy this system at an international site during an appropriate shark season. This as a means of demonstrating to the international community and market the effectiveness of the KZNSB Shark Repellent system. The end goal is to market the system Internationally and Locally to generate funds for the KZNSB and the Province of KZN.
The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs generously funded the above-mentioned development (An electrical shark repellent device). The SRC has the potential to provide a global non-lethal alternative to nets and drumlines in protecting water users from shark attack.
The KZNSB has identified an ideal test site at Busselton Jetty West Australia and secondary possible test sites should the need arise. Various location in Australia that require some means of shark protection for their sea user population were visited to establish the potential market of the system. All Reponses form the various locations in Australia were both well received and welcomed.
The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs’ Legal Unit and KZN Sharks Board had had all the plans and preparation to visit Western Australia early 2020, but, due to COVID 19 pandemic and lockdown related regulations, the aforesaid visitation could not take place, till further notice.
Since South Africa and KZN’s tourism industry have been decimated by the COVID19 pandemic. KwaZulu-Natal Tourism is compiling a Tourism Recovery Plan in a bid to limit the damage suffered by the industry due to the pandemic and lockdown. For this plan to succeed the KZN Sharks Board bather protection becomes even more critical. Without the KZN Sharks Board, the recovery of the tourism sector would be impossible resulting in economic catastrophe.
Despite the plans and strides my Department and KZN Sharks Board had had, all the excellent and lucrative plans above have been hit the hardest by the COVID 19 pandemic, the clean audit opinion aimed at and the loss in revenue have been some amongst other areas of concern.
It suffices, nonetheless that, I extend my warmest words of gratitude to the Board of Directors, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Management and Staff Members for the sterling work rendered under the hard-hitting circumstance.
Hon. MEC, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MPL
MEC for Economic Development, Tourism &