Nelson Mandela Bay great white shark cage-diving on track, says operator

Red tape has delayed a shark-diving operation in Nelson Mandela Bay
Red tape has delayed a shark-diving operation in Nelson Mandela Bay

Great white shark cage-diving is on the cards for Nelson Mandela Bay – with red tape now the only thing standing in the way of the first dive.

That was the word from whale-watching operator Lloyd Edwards, speaking at the Tourism Indaba in Durban.

Edwards said on Thursday the operation, expected to be a tourism drawcard for the metro, should have started up in April but delays in getting a permit from the department of environmental affairs had put the process on hold.

Edwards said in May 2018 he had been awarded the rights to run the first cagediving operation in the Bay.

The project opened for applications in 2017 and three operators applied, with Edwards, of Raggy Charters, announcing at the 2018 indaba that he had won the bid.

Reaction to the news was mixed, with some people citing economic benefits while others expressed safety and environmental concerns.

“I don’t really know what the hold-up is,” Edwards said.

“I have been in communication with the department of environmental affairs and have let them know that we are ready, but I still haven’t received the permit.”

The operation will offer tourists an eight-hour cruise through Algoa Bay that includes whale-watching off Cape Recife, bird-feeding in Sardinia Bay, shark cagediving at the Bird islands group, and dolphin surfing along the beach, with the tour ending off at St Croix Island.

Edwards said they had been doing cruises to test the route.

He and the Raggy Charters team, who also hold one of two boat-based whale-watching licences for Algoa Bay, are constructing the new shark diving cage.

The operation will run from April to September when great white sharks start congregating around Bird Island during the annual Cape fur seal pupping season.

Edwards said chumming would be undertaken to attract the sharks, but the site was too far out for it to increase shark activity around any swimming beaches. Speaking at the 2019 indaba, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency CEO Vuyani Dayimani said the shark diving operation would benefit the province’s tourism industry and economy.

“This will mean that visitors now have something new to stay longer for,” he said.

Mayoral committee member for economic development, tourism and agriculture Queenie Pink said: “Having an option to actually see the great white shark in its natural environment is a great addition to our existing products that fall within this category, such as our ocean safaris and Big Five parks, which include the Addo Elephant National Park.”

The department of environmental affairs could not be reached for comment.


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