Statement by the KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs
KZNSB MEC’S FOREWORD
As the Executive Authority, I am pleased to endorse the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Maritime Centre of Excellence (KZNSB) Annual Report. This report seeks to articulate the path which KZNSB has followed in the period we are reporting on, ended in 31 March 2023 which is aligned to the goals outlined in the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs’ strategic plan which focusses on transforming the economy and tourism the creation of jobs in the KZN economy.
The economy of the Province is heavily reliant on beach tourism and safe bathing. By keeping our tourists safe from shark-related incidents, KZNSB contributes extensively to economic development and the tourism sector in particular, which is 95% beach related.
The mandate of KZNSB is set out in the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Act, which provides for the establishment of KZNSB in order to protect bathers against shark attacks. The entity’s mandate goes beyond the guarantee of safety to our tourists whilst bathing in the sea. It also includes marine research and development, thereby contributing to the job creation, economic development and transformation in the Province.
The recent floods in the province had a significant impact on beach tourism and on the services provided by the KZNSB. Many beaches were closed for much of 2022 due to beach and sea water contamination following heavy flooding in April. The shark safety gear could not be deployed at many beaches for the months of May and June. Floods also damaged infrastructure, causing untreated effluent to spill into local rivers, ultimately flowing into the ocean and on to the adjacent beaches. This led to some beaches being closed again later in the year. During periods where beaches are closed, shark safety gear is taken out of the water. Flooding thus had a major impact on the deployment of gear and on total number of services performed on the gear. Despite the challenges experienced with beaches being closed, thousands of visitors still descended on to those beaches which were open. Fortunately, the KZNSB continued to ensure safe bathing at these locations.
While ensuring the safety of the bathers, the Board also strives to reduce the negative environmental impacts of its work. As in the past, all live animals caught in the nets are released alive. The Board’s guiding philosophy is that protecting bathers against shark attack should be done in a manner that minimizes adverse effects on the environment. The KZNSB is therefore continuing its work in the development of a Shark Repellent Cable. This cable will have the potential to provide a non-lethal alternative to the use of nets/drumlines to reduce shark incidents not only in South Africa, but worldwide, in areas with calm surf conditions. The SRC has been identified as a catalytic project by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs due to its potential to generate jobs and revenue in South Africa. The KZNSB is committed to continue its collaboration with local and international tourism and shark research partners to take this exciting initiative forward.
As the competition for tourism spend grows between coastal provinces, the KZNSB plans to further strengthen the attractiveness of the KZN province through working with local, provincial and international strategic partners to advance safe bathing methods, as well as increasing beach clean-ups and awareness programmes.
KZNSB’s Annual Performance Plan supports the performance standards, the quality of work and success of the past by continuing to focus on high impact performance outcomes in support of the growth of KZN beach tourism, which underpins expanded growth of our GDP and hence the retention and creation of jobs.
Against this background, we congratulate the KZNSB for having continued to achieve important milestones despite the many challenges it has faced. As the Executive Authority of the Department, Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, I hereby endorse this Annual Report and offer my Department’s commitment to ensuring continuity.
Mr Siboniso Duma, MPL
MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs