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General notice on decision for boat-based whale watching (BBWW) and white shark cage diving (WSCD) 2017 permit allocation

Introduction and background
About BBWW and WSCD permiting process
Policy documents and templates
Areas and number of permits
Refer to allocation process




The Department of Environmental Affairs ("the Department") hereby publish general notice for the decisions on the boat-based whale watching (BBWW) and white shark cage diving (WSCD) permits allocation process of 2017 [PDF - 652.09 kb]. This notices serve to set out the criteria, the process and methodology for the decisions on allocation of permits in the BBWW and WSCD sectors. This notice should be read in conjunction with the policies on boat-based whale watching and white shark cage diving as well as the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004: Threatened or Protected Marine Species Regulations, 2017 (Government Gazette 40876 of 30 May 2017). On 14 June 2017, the Department commenced with the BBWW Permit Allocation process of 2017 which followed several steps.

On the 17 February 2017, the Department gazetted draft policies for BBWW and WSCD for public comment. The Department made provision for any person wishing to submit representation or comments in connection with the draft policies to do so within 30 days from date of publication in the Government Gazette 40626. The public commenting period for the two draft policies was subsequently extended to the 6 April 2017. In addition to the formal notice and commenting process, the Department held consultative meetings on the draft policies as well as on the allocation process at various venues in the four coastal provinces from 13 March to 6 April 2017. The dates, times and venues of the twenty (20) consultative meetings were published in the national print media and displayed at public notices along the coast.


About BBWW and WSCD and related history


Boat-Based Whale and Dolphin Watching (BBWW) is the observing of whales and dolphins behaviour in their natural environment from sea-going vessels, while White Shark Cage Diving (WSCD) involves observing free swimming Great White Sharks from vessels and/or from within a protective cage that is submerged in water. Both BBWW and WSCD have grown from adhoc activities to regulated commercial operations contributing to coastal and marine tourism.

Since 2011, permitting of boat-based whale watching and white shark cage diving operations has been carried out by the department; after completion of a comprehensive and lengthy allocation process. Permits were allocated in terms of section 13 of the Marine Living Resources Act, 1998 (MLRA) and were renewable annually for a period of five (5) years. Thus, permitting of BBWW and WSCD is recognized as a significant tool to promote conservation of species such as whales, dolphins and sharks while supporting sustainable, nature-based tourism.

A number of measures have been implemented to support sustainable BBWW and WSCD. These includes development of policies to guide the process and decision making for permit allocation process, promote the growth of these sectors as well as raise awareness, education and instil conservation ethics. Enacted regulations relating to BBWW and WSCD also set out provision and general prohibitions to enforce compliance and encourage awareness and action for these species.


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Areas and number of permits


Areas Number of Permits
Boat-Based Whale Watching 
Port Nolloth 1
Lambert’s Bay 1
St Helena Bay-Sandy Point 1
Saldanha Bay 1
Cape Town 1
Hout Bay 1
Cape Point- Kalkbaai 1
Gordons Bay 1
Hermanus 3
Gans Bay (Gansbaai) 1
Kleinbaai 2
Arniston and Struis Bay (Struisbaai) 1
Stilbaai 1
Mossel Bay 2
Knysna 1
Plettenberg Bay 2
Cape St Francis 1
Port Elizabeth 2
Kenton on Sea 1
Port Alfred 1
East London 1
Kei-Umgazi rivers 2
Umgazi-Umtanvuna rivers 2
Shelley Beach 2
Durban 3
Richards Bay 1
St Lucia 2
Sodwana Bay 1
White Shark Cage Diving
Seal Island, False Bay 3
Dyer Island, Gansbaai 9
Quoin Rock, Quoin Point 2
Seal Island, Mossel Bay 1
Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth 2
N.B: WSCD Permit holders in the Seal Island, Mossel Bay and Quoin Point areas will not be allowed to operate from 1 December until 20 January of the next year due to school holidays.


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Guiding documents


Policy documents and templates
  • Policy on BBWW


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