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Allocation process for boat-based whale watching and white shark cage diving operating permits

Public Notice

WSCD appeals

» General published reasons for the decisions on appeal White Shark Cage Diving (WSCD) non-consumptive sector

» WSCD appeal decision sheet

WSCD Provisional Outcomes: 13 April 2018

On 4 June 2017, the Department published in terms of regulation 75 (1) the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004): Threatened or Protected Marine Species Regulations (Government Gazette No. 40876 of 30 May 2017) (Marine TOPS regulations), notice inviting applications for permits in the Boat-Based Whale and Dolphin Watching (BBWW) and White Shark Cage Diving (WSCD) sectors.

On 13 March 2018, the Minister as the Appeal Authority in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of (1998) (NEMA) decided to send back all WSCD applications for a complete reassessment due to generic scoring errors identified in the score sheets as set out in the WSCD Appeal Authority’s letter.

To ensure the integrity of the process and in the interests of procedural fairness, all applications submitted by the closing date of 20 July 2017 for a permit to operate a WSCD were reassessed and Delegated Authority provisionally granting permit(s) as follows: WSCD Assessment Sheet_Final_Table April 2018). It is important to note that this decisions are subject to the outcomes of any appeals submitted in terms of section 43 of NEMA.

Closing date for appeals is 20 calendar days from 13 April 2018 (thus 3 May 2018).

» Appeal decision in terms of section 43 of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998): White Shark Cage Diving (WSCD).

» White Shark Cage Diving (WSCD) assessment sheet.



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.

In June 2017, the Department will commence with the application process for boat-based whale watching and shark cage diving operating permits. This follows revision of policies on boat-based whale and dolphin watching and White Shark Cage Diving gazetted in Government Gazette 40878 of 31 May 2017.  The policies aim to improve regulatory and compliance frameworks in both sectors, transform the sectors in line with B-BBEE Tourism Sector Codes and B-BBEE Act and allocate a sustainable number of permits. The permits will be allocated for a period not exceeding 10 years in terms of National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) read together with the Threatened or Protected Marine Species Regulations, 2017 (Government Gazette 40876 of 30 May 2017). 

Thus, BBWW will be permitted in the following designated areas:

  • Port Nolloth; Lamberts Bay;
  • St Helena Bay;
  • Saldanha Bay;
  • Cape Town;
  • Hout Bay;
  • Kalk Bay;
  • Gordons Bay;
  • Hermanus;
  • Gans Bay/Gansbaai;
  • Kleinbaai;
  • Arniston Struis Bay;
  • Mossel Bay; Knysna;
  • Plettenberg Bay;
  • Cape St Francis;
  • Port Elizabeth;
  • Kenton on Sea;
  • Port Alfred;
  • East London;
  • Kei--Umgazi Rivers;
  • Umgazi-Umtanvuna rivers;
  • Shelley Beach; Durban;
  • Richards Bay;
  • St Lucia and Sodwana Bay.


WSCD is limited to areas where Great White Sharks aggregate naturally and mostly at seal colonies. Thus, WSCD will be limited to Seal Island in False Bay, Dyer Island in Gansbaai, Quoin Rock at Quoin Point, Seal Island in Mossel Bay and Algoa Bay in the Port Elizabeth area.

Applicants wishing to apply for permit(s) may visit the venues on the dates specified by the Department to obtain the application form(s).

Applicants who are unable to go to the distribution venues or who prefer to electronically receive an application form containing a unique application reference number must send an email to the corresponding email addresses: and Each application form contains a unique application reference number. Therefore the application forms should not be shared.

See below more information including the Policy documents, Threatened or Protected Marine Species Regulations as well as a template of the application forms:


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