Sodwana Bay Diving Industry
Sodwana Bay, South Africa
This study investigates socio-economic aspects of the Sodwana Bay dive industry, including data on diver expectations, experiences and expenditure.
Why this is important:
This information is critical in estimating the economic value of the dive industry to the local communities as well as maintaining a sustainable MPA and diving industry. Sharks are not currently protected from fishing within the MPA. We hope that by highlighting their non-consumptive value it will help in granting them protected status.
Sodwana Bay is one of South Africa’s premier dive destinations, attracting thousands of divers each year. It is located within the St Lucia MPA, which together with the adjacent Maputaland MPA forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (iWP). The Park, which is declared under the World Heritage Convention Act No. 49 of 1999 is jointly managed by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The management agreement between the two authorities states that the Park must be able to achieve financial sustainability. One of the ways it is trying to do this is through the implementation of the “user-pays” principle. Essentially this means that the direct beneficiaries of the MPA (divers and boat operators) contribute, in part, to the recovery of operating costs. The financial sustainability of the MPA is therefore partly related to how attractive the MPA is to divers. Data and information on the recreational aspects of the Sodwana Bay dive industry, however, particularly the expectations and experiences of divers and their willingness to pay for the experience are non-existent. This information is crucial from a management perspective to ensure the sustainable development of the Sodwana Bay dive industry as well as the iWP. As a result, both the iWP Authority and the Sodwana Bay Dive Industry Association approached our project team to develop this research proposal.
The iWP is a multiple use area and includes activities such as fishing, diving, sea kayaking and whale watching. With the exception of white (Carcharodon carcharias), whale (Rhincodon typus) and basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus), fishermen within the Park are able to target any shark species they choose. This could have serious implications for the sustainable development of the dive industry, considering the fact that raggedtooth (Carcharias taurus), tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), as well as a variety of other shark species are primary attractions for divers in visiting Sodwana Bay. Selected shark species have been granted full protection in many of South Africa’s MPA’s. We hope that quantifying the non-consumptive value of sharks to the dive industry will provide an impetus for their full protection within the iWP.
Aims and Objectives
An onsite questionnaire survey of divers will be conducted at Sodwana Bay to:
- Gather information on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of divers at Sodwana Bay. Including information on age, nationality, sex, income and place of residence.
- Gather information on the quality of experience realised by divers at Sodwana Bay.
- Quantify the economic values associated with SCUBA diving to the local economy and the MPA through the use of direct spend analysis, and if suitable data is collected, the construction of a Travel Cost Model.
- Estimate the annual number of SCUBA divers and dives at Sodwana Bay.
- Take an interactive shark exhibit to “SciFest Africa” (South Africa’s largest science show – 70,000 visitors) to educate learners about the importance of sharks in the marine environment.
Bayworld Center for Research and Education
Its been a really busy few months educating almost 100,000 learners at two of South Africa’s premier science events: SciFest Africa and National Science Week. Our interactive shark exhibit “Shark World” and robotic 3.5 m great white shark, affectionately known…
The summer diving season is crazy at Sodwana with thousands of holiday makers, many of whom are divers visiting the area. It’s a great time to conduct a questionnaire survey and a total of 500 QA’s were collected over an…
Finally made the first trip to Sodwana to survey divers and gain an understanding of the value and importance of sharks within the iSimangaliso World Heritage site. The trip was a real success with all of the dive concessionaires in…