Overview of the Sharks Board
Promulgated in terms of the KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board Act , 2008 (Act No. 5 of 2008)
The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board has been successfully protecting the province’s bathing beaches from shark attack for more than 40 years. Its research into bather protection, with as little impact on the environment as possible, is respected world-wide and there is a continuing exchange of information with overseas countries, notably Australia as well as USA and other countries experiencing shark incidents.
The Board also plays a significant role in supporting the tourism industry that has developed around the annual Sardine Run, relaying information and running an information hotline (083 913 9495) as the shoals make their way up the South Coast. The Sardine Run – usually occurring May to July - affords visitors the opportunity of viewing first hand, the vast shoals of fish and accompanying predators such as seabirds, dolphins, gamefish and of course sharks.
The KZN Sharks Board’s headquarters at Umhlanga is a popular venue for school tours. Visitors are able to view an audio-visual presentation and shark dissection, from which important data is collected for research purposes. Its Durban-based motor cruisers takes members of the public on a shark safety gear experience where they can see firsthand the maintenance operation of the nets off Durban’s Golden Mile at dawn, and then enjoy the opportunistic viewing of dolphins, whales and seabirds that may be in the area.
The KZN Sharks Board constantly seeks a balance between the protection of bathers with the least possible impact on the marine environment. The Board embarked upon a net reduction programme some years ago and total coverage of shark safety gear (nets and/or a combination of nets and drumlines) has gradually dropped from 44km to 23km of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, without adversely compromising bather safety at popular protected beaches from Richards Bay to Port Edward.
The operations staff are accommodated on site at 11 base stations situated along the KZN Coast. This enables the teams to launch through the surf at first light and begin their task of checking the shark safety gear for any specimens caught overnight, and changing nets that have accumulated marine growth and effecting any minor repairs that may be required.
It is tough, demanding work but morale is high. The Tourism Industry in KwaZulu-Natal owes much to the efforts of these dedicated men and women in keeping our beaches safe from shark attack