Africa Marine & Leisure Expo to support Marine Conservation Groups and promote Local Dive Centres
Since its inception in 2012, the Africa Marine & Leisure Expo presented by UGU South Coast Tourism has championed both local and national conservation initiatives alike. The event’s huge popularity has always come as a result of its unique dual focus- on celebrating coastal living and the marine environment on one hand, and promoting the conservation of that environment on the other.
This year’s event, which is scheduled to take place in Scottburgh on November 1st and 2nd, is to be no different. As part of its commitment to ensuring the continued health of South Africa’s coastline, the 2014 Africa Marine & Leisure Expo will feature lectures by influential environmental figures throughout the weekend. These talks are designed to inform the public about the issues facing our oceans, to introduce the initiatives and campaigns providing a solution to those issues, and to motivate them to get involved wherever they can. Additionally, the Expo will include a series of conservation stalls in the Main Beach Exhibition Zone, where visitors can ask one-on-one questions about the work of each organisation, and even find out how to contribute to their invaluable work.
Traditionally, the Africa Marine & Leisure Expo attracts members of all water user groups- from scuba divers to surfers, and from fishermen to triathletes, stand-up paddle boarders and freedivers. These are the people that spend each day on the ocean, and who look to the marine environment for their pleasure, their freedom- and often, for their livelihood. It also provides a unique day out for all those that live on the South Coast and therefore have a direct interest in keeping the coastline as productive and pristine as possible. These are the people with the most inclination and the greatest motivation for supporting conservation initiatives, and the Africa Marine & Leisure Expo aims to provide them with the opportunity to do so. Throughout the course of the weekend, visitors will be able to learn more about many organisations thanks to the environmental lectures and conservation stalls- some of them international, some of them local, and all of them doing their best to ensure the future of the ocean on which we all depend.
Representing conservation on the South Coast will be the Aliwal Shoal Honorary Officers, Clansthal Conservancy & Greenpoint Surfriders Foundation, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It is the role of the Aliwal Shoal Honorary Officers to patrol the Aliwal Shoal MPA on behalf of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, ensuring that the rules and regulations of the MPA are adhered to. As well as checking fishing and diving permits, the officers carry out an educational role, informing people about the quotas and size limits that exist for different marine species. They are committed to working with the public to ensure the sanctity and value of the Aliwal Shoal MPA. The Clansthal Conservancy & Greenpoint Surfriders Foundation are similarly concerned with local conservation issues, and are campaigning for the enlargement and rezoning of the Aliwal Shoal MPA as well as supporting recycling, indigenous gardening and beach cleanup efforts in the Clansthal area. Dr. Angus MacDonald will represent MAREVOL, a laboratory of postgraduate Marine Biology students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He will talk about the laboratory’s work, where students are focusing on marine conservation research from an evolutionary perspective, primarily through the use of molecular techniques.
On a national and international level, the Africa Marine & Leisure Expo will also be attended by representatives from WESSA, Blue Flag, Shark Angels and NSRI. As well as operating stalls at the Expo, Sheivine Datadine from WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) will deliver a talk about the organisation’s Blue Flag initiative, which focuses on the environmental management of beaches and coastal waters. Meanwhile, Shark Angels is an international organisation that aims to inspire members of the public to commit to saving the world’s sharks through education campaigns, grassroots outreach initiatives and the use of creative media. At this year’s Expo, representatives from NSRI will talk about keeping safe out on the water- so that members of all water user groups and budding marine conservationists alike can enjoy the ocean without incident.
As well as supporting the causes of all these many conservation groups and more, the Africa Marine & Leisure Expo is helping local dive operators promote their diving packages through the event. After all, the more people that are exposed to the wonders of the underwater world the better- as only then will they truly be inspired to get involved with marine conservation initiatives. Dive centres that will be offering special packages at the Expo include Umkomaas Lodge, and Shark Cage Diving KZN. The former is offering a five-dive package for just R1,650 amongst other fantastic deals; whilst the latter offers divers and non-divers alike the chance to meet Aliwal’s famous sharks for just R950 per person. Local dive company’s packages are advertised in the official Africa Marine Expo programme which will be available free of charge to festival-goers on Saturday and Sunday. Local dive charters include Aliwal Shoal Scubalodge Diving & Accommodation, Shark Cage Diving, Blue Wilderness, Blue Ocean Dive Resort, Two Oceans Scuba Academy and Aliwal Dive Centre.
In addition, those non-divers interested in taking up the sport are encouraged to attend the Expo’s Learn To Breathe Underwater Dive Clinic, which will be held on both days of the event between 1:45pm- 2:30pm at the Scottburgh Beach Pool. The clinic will be hosted by Two Oceans Scuba Academy, and could open the door to a whole new world for those willing to take the plunge.
The SouthCoast Rocky Bay Resorts Strongman is one of the highlights of the Africa Marine & Leisure Expo with others including the Miss Africa Marine Queen and the Family Fun Catch & Release Fishing competition. Come rain or shine, Scottburgh beach is the place to be this weekend (November 1 and 2).
For more information about the conservation and diving aspects of the 2014 Africa Marine & Leisure Expo, or to find out about the plethora of other activities and attractions that will be offered throughout the event, please contact Vicky at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 082 812 7944.