Strong Focus on Conservation at This Year’s Africa Marine & Leisure Expo

Words: Olivia Jones Communications | Photos: Jason Sheppard

This weekend (August 3-4) will see the highly anticipated UGU South Coast Tourism Africa Marine & Leisure Expo take place at Scottburgh beach and the surrounding area.

Strong Focus on Conservation at This Year’s Africa Marine & Leisure Expo

Organised by South Coast Tourism, the event is designed to celebrate the rich marine culture of the province whilst simultaneously highlighting the importance of conserving the ocean for future generations. The Expo is free of charge and open to all members of the public. The event will be attended by representatives from all ocean user groups, including bodyboarders, divers, anglers and surfers, and guests will be kept entertained by a variety of displays and competitions throughout with the Powerplay Scottburgh Surf Pro, KZN Bodyboarding Champs and Catch & Release angling competitions. There will be a dual focus on fun and education, and each aspect of the event has been designed accordingly, with the aim of illustrating the connection between enjoying the sea and protecting it.


To this end, the Africa Marine & Leisure Expo is proud to be hosting speakers from an impressive range of conservation and education groups, operating both locally and internationally. These talks will be free and open to all members of the public. On Saturday August 3, the talks will be kicked off by celebrity angler Craig Thomassen (Pennington) who will talk about catch and release angling, and the importance of sustainable fishing practices. As well as writing for several fishing publications and publishing his own book, Craig is the presenter of Inside Angling on Supersport. He uses the programme as a platform to promote responsible angling, an issue that he has long been passionate about.


Saturday’s talks will continue with a lecture by Dr Tony Ribbink from the Sustainable Seas Trust. Dr Ribbink will be talking about the recent SAMSA Saldanha to Sodwana SST Tour, and will also explore how members of the public can contribute to ocean conservation efforts in South Africa. Kate Holden will then present her new organisation, GEEK2! (Green Education Equals Knowledge and Knowhow), which seeks to educate less privileged youths about the importance of conservation in building a future for their country. Kate will focus specifically on sharks, their role in the ocean, why they are so vital and why they so desperately need our protection.


Sheivine Datadine will continue on the topic of shark conservation in her talk on behalf of WESSA National Coastal Programme, under whose auspices the Shark Spotter programme is run. Sheivine will also touch on the WESSA Blue Flag beach initiative, and the impact that it has not only on tourism but on the environment as well. Nigel Eady from Aliwal Shoal Honorary Officers will close the talks for the day, with his lecture on behalf of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.


Conservation will be the focus of the day on Sunday as well, with the second day of talks being opened by Colombian scientist Phanor Montoya-Maya. Phanor will speak about two of the projects that he is closely involved with; the first being The Hills Have Eyes, an initiative that keeps a look out for sardine run activity, and the second being the work of the SieMma Foundation. Originally started in Colombia, the SieMma Foundation develops environmental education, research and conservation programmes that promote environmental responsibility and the sustainable use of natural resources.


Award-winning photographer Allen Walker will then take to the stage to share his secrets on achieving high quality underwater images, and is sure to keep the crowd entertained with tales of his many adventures diving in the middle of bait balls during the sardine run and sharing his experiences of getting up close and personal with sharks. Sunday’s talks will continue with a lecture from the Deputy Station Commander for the Durban branch of the NSRI, Andre Fletcher. Andre will present a lecture about marine safety, designed to appeal to members of all ocean user groups and help them to safely enjoy the unpredictable waters off the South African coastline. This talk will also be valuable to all members of the public as he will explain what the public can do to expedite a safe rescue.


Paul Hoyte from the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) will be talking about the impact of beach litter on marine birds and share stories about the work that CROW does. Sheivine Datadin from WESSA SustainEd will share practical tips for all beachgoers to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Finally, Thea van der Westhuizen will present the concluding lecture of the Expo in her capacity as international board member for Paddle For The Planet. She will be speaking about the movement’s mission statement, which is to unite paddlers and watermen worldwide for conservation.


"The programme of speakers for the Africa Marine Expo is set to be both fascinating and informative. For many South Africans, the ocean is not only a source of entertainment, but provides a livelihood as well. If we are to continue to reap the benefits of such a valuable resource, it is imperative that we understand enough about it to be able to conserve it. Attending these talks is a excellent opportunity to learn more about the issues that face our oceans, and what we can do to address them," commented Michael Bertram, CEO: UGU South Coast Tourism.


In addition to the conservation talks and conservation exhibitors, the UGU South Coast Tourism Africa Marine & Leisure Expo will be a hive of activity with surfing, bodyboarding and angling tournaments, stage entertainment and bikini glamour events - there will be something for the whole family to enjoy with a variety of activities for children too.


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List of Conservation Exhibitors:

Sustainable Seas Trust (SST)
Shark Angels
Clansthal Conservancy
Allen Walker Photography for Conservation Causes
WESSA Blue Flag & Shark Spotters
WESSA SustainEd
Aliwal Shoal Honorary Officers & Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
TC Robertson Nature Reserve
Paddle for the Planet
MAREVOL (Marine Evolution) Lab from UKZN


Speaker Line-up



11h00 Craig Thomassen – importance of catch and release fishing
12h00 Dr Tony Ribbink – Sustainable Seas Trust talk on the recent SAMSA Saldanha to Sodwana SST Tour
13h00 Kate Holden – G.E.E.K2! Green Education Equals Knowledge and Knowhow
14h00 Sheivine Datadin - WESSA Blue Flag & Shark Spotters
15h00 Nigel Eady – Ezemvelo and Aliwal Shoal Honorary Officers presentation



10h00 Phanor Montoya-Maya – Sardine Run Talk for Hills Have Eyes
11h00 Allen Walker – Award Winning Underwater Photographer shares some tips and stories of his adventures on sardine run
12h00 Andre Fletcher – NSRI Deputy Station Commander Durban on what to do to expedite a successful rescue and ocean safety tips
13h00 Paul Hoyte - Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
14h00 Sabine Clinckemaillie – WESSA SustainEd
15h00 Thea van der Westhuizen – Paddle for the Planet uniting watermen worldwide in conservation


Expos & Shows