01 June 2005

Massive sardine shoal headed for KwaZulu Natal coast

A massive sardine shoal has been spotted off East London, headed for the KwaZulu-Natal coast, the province's tourism MEC, Narend Singh, said on Tuesday.

"We could be in for a bumper sardine season this year. If the weather is kind, that shoal could be off the South Coast in a few weeks and the sardine frenzy will take over," said Singh.

He was speaking at a summit on tourism and economic development at Kapenta Bay, near Port Shepstone.

He said he was in an aircraft with members of the Natal Sharks Board a few days ago when the shoal - 21 nautical miles in length - was spotted off East London.

"This is something to be marketed worldwide. We must seize the opportunity," said Singh.

Boat hire alone brought in about R3-million during the few weeks of the sardine season apart from accommodation and other spending.

The sardine run had great potential for further marketing as a tourist attraction, said Singh.

While tourism was booming on the lower South Coast, his department faced the challenge of integrating this tourist attraction with the undeveloped parts of Ugu district municipality, which had "wonderful beaches and spectacular scenery".

He also called for the development of ethnic and cultural tourist routes, and private sector investment in other spots of great beauty.

His department was identifying, developing and promoting musical and artistic talent to make it part of the attraction of the region, said Singh.

Source: www.iol.co.za


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