The South African Sardine Run Charter Owners Association – SASRCOA
Q. Planning a Sardine Run Adventure Trip?
A. Make sure you book with a SASRCOA member to ensure your operator is legally compliant and adheres to a higher code of conduct.
On 2 July 2019, three South African sardine run charter businesses collaborated to establish the South African Sardine Run Charter Owners’ Association (SASRCOA). The three pioneering and founding members of the Association are African Water Sports, Aliwal Shoal Scuba and Dive Expert-Tours. (CLICK HERE to see all the members).
The Association’s key objectives are to encourage all other responsible and eco-tourism focused sardine-run businesses to join the Association in order to promote a thriving, safe and sustainable South African sardine run charter industry. The Association has adopted a definitive Code of Conduct for its members which will be binding on the operation of member businesses.
Clients and regulatory authorities can therefore be safe in the knowledge that Association members will at all times operate strictly in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
For more information about the Association, its objectives and purpose, members of the public or businesses interested in joining the Association can contact SASRCOA here.
The Umbrella Association in cooperation with Advocate Shaheen Molla represent SASRCOA with any issues arising from the DEA or DAF or any other matters concerning legal issues of the Sardine Run in future.
Sardine Run Operators can join SASRCOA HERE.
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR THE MEMBERS OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN SARDINE RUN CHARTER OWNERS’ ASSOCIATION
The members of the SOUTH AFRICAN SARDINE RUN CHARTER OWNERS’ ASSOCIATION shall adhere to this Code of Conduct at all times. Violations of the Code of Conduct can result in the suspension or termination of the member’s membership to the Association as provided for in terms of the Association’s Constitution.
Members of the SOUTH AFRICAN SARDINE RUN CHARTER OWNERS’ ASSOCIATION do not offer and shall not create the public impression via any form of advertisement that they offer any form of boat- based whale or dolphin watching service.
Members of the SOUTH AFRICAN SARDINE RUN CHARTER OWNERS’ ASSOCIATION offer their clients a globally unique experience to dive amongst masses of sardines as they migrate along the South African eastern coast during an annual migration termed the “GREATEST SHOAL ON EARTH”.
By accepting membership of the Association, the member concerned shall be bound by the provisions of this Code of Conduct.
DIVE GUIDES AND SKIPPERS
Skippers shall be certified by SAMSA to be qualified to carry passengers on a commercial passenger vessel and shall strictly comply with the National Small Vessel Safety Regulations of 2007.
All dive guides and / or in-water guides shall have a Dive Master level qualification as a min- imum qualification.
In the event of that clients are experienced free divers that are not SCUBA divers, group leaders must be highly qualified in free diving as well, and shall take on the role of an in-water guide for these client groups.
Dive guides and/or skippers must be trained in basic first aid.
Dive guides and/or group leaders must be in the water with a client group at all times. If a client group is using SCUBA, snorkelers may not be in the water without a separate group leader or dive guide.
Dive guides shall have adequate ocean-guiding experience with sharks specifically as well as have a level of familiarity with shark and predator behavior.
All vessels shall have a valid SAMSA safety certificate and functioning vessel monitoring system capable of ensuring that the vessel’s global position may be tracked, located and monitored.
All vessels shall have an adequate first aid box and shall also have a full and in-date Medical Oxygen cylinder on board.
Skippers must be correctly and adequately certified to surf launch and have sufficient surf launch experience to have SCUBA divers on board.
All skippers are to have suitable experience in animal behavior experience and/or an understanding of the annual migration of sardines along the South African coast.
A copy of this Code of Conduct shall be displayed on the vessel where is can be accessed and read by passengers.
SOUTH AFRICAN SARDINE RUN CHARTER OWNERS must have a minimum of R10,000,000 (ten million rand) in public liability and indemnity insurance in place at all times.
The operation of vessels in any Marine Protected Area shall be undertaken in strict compliance with the applicable regulatory framework governing that MPA, including ensuring that the applicable SCUBA and operating permits are in place. Where an MPA requires the stowage of prohibited gear, vessel skippers shall photograph and record the stowage of the prohibited gear while traversing or operating in the MPA.
The size of the bait-ball shall determine the number of operators and divers that may safely and responsibly converge on the bait-ball.
Second and further vessels that wish to converge on a bait-ball shall be strictly guided by the skipper of the first vessel that converged on the bait-ball. If the skipper of the first vessel confirms that it is reasonably safe and biologically responsible for additional persons to approach and converge on a bait-ball, then only shall the second or further vessels approach a bait-ball.
If the bait-ball moves away and requires divers to be collected by a vessel, another operator may deploy its divers once the bait-ball becomes static.
In the case of bait-balls that are mobile, vessel operators and skippers shall take all reasona- ble measures to ensure safety of passengers and divers and must take all reasonable measures to avoid contact with marine animals.
Skippers shall deploy divers outside of a bait-ball and shall never attempt to sail through a bait-ball. Once divers are deployed and have moved safely away from the vessel toward the bait ball, the skipper shall immediately move the vessel safely away from the immediate vi- cinity of the bait-ball.
Where a commercial filming operation is in progress, members shall ensure that their skip- pers and clients do not interfere with the filming.
Where a whale or dolphin breaches within close proximity of a vessel, the skipper must im- mediately implement measures to distance the vessel from the whale and/or dolphin.
All persons diving or swimming amongst a bait-ball shall wear black gloves and booties while in the water.
All persons diving or swimming amongst a bait-ball shall wear dark-coloured wetsuits with similarly dark-coloured fins and shiny, brightly coloured and luminous diving gear shall be avoided as far as reasonably possible.
All clients must be suitably qualified as SCUBA divers to participate in the sardine run.
Members shall satisfy themselves that their clients have adequate snorkeling experience and skill.
Whilst snorkeling, clients shall be guided to conduct their activities not directly over the bait-ball.
Snorkelers shall be do all things necessary to avoid contact with marine life. SCUBA DIVING
All SCUBA divers shall stay together on one side of a bait-ball and shall not circle the bait- ball.
SCUBA divers shall maintain a safe distance from the bait-ball.
All SCUBA dives will be led by a dive master and the dive master shall carry a buoy line at all times.
All SCUBA divers are to carry a surface marker buoy in their BCD’s;
The Dive Master shall are to ensure that all SCUBA divers in their dive groups are maintaining buoyancy and remain at the same depth as the Dive Master.
Skippers shall avoid dolphin pods and shall not drive or sail through a pod of dolphins.
Members shall deploy Snorkelers not closer than 300m away from a dolphin or pod of dolphins.
Skippers shall not undertake sharp turns or circling patterns to attract dolphins.
Vessels shall not approach any whales closer than a distance of 300m.
Skippers shall strictly avoid all mother/calf pairs and divers, snorkelers and vessels shall not in any way disturb or approach them.
Where a whale approaches a vessel closer than 50m, the vessel shall immediately turn off its engines.
Divers shall not be permitted to enter the water if closer than 50m from a whale. In this in- stance, the vessel shall first slowly move away from the whale without disturbing the whale.
Sardine run activities shall only take place during day-light hours.