Welcome to SABBWWA (South African Boat Based Whale Watching Association)



During November 2017, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism issued a set of provisional decisions which can potentially have dire economic and social consequences to whale watching tourism in the Western Cape and KZN, in particular. Many SABBWWA members – who are all highly experienced and reputable whale watching operators – have been provisionally refused 10 year long permits.


However, we wish to emphasise that these decisions are –


  1. Provisional and are being appealed;


  1. Initial legal advice (both internal and independent) has confirmed that the Department’s decisions are so fatally flawed that none of these will withstand any form of judicial scrutiny. For example, our lawyers have highlighted glaring inconsistencies in scoring and weighting applications which can only be attributed to intentional score manipulations and mala fides.


  1. All current operators are authorised both under their current permit authorisations and a recent court order issued by the Western Cape High Court to continue operating until such time as the Minister of Environmental Affairs decides the appeals which we only foresee being completed by April at the earliest. Given the current political changes in the governing ANC, we also anticipate a change of Minister at the Department of Environmental Affairs, and trust that a new Minister will quickly recognise the serious harm that will result from implementing the Department’s flawed and unlawful decisions.


We accordingly wish to assure all prospective clients that SABBWWA members REMAIN lawful and valid whale watching operators and you are encouraged to only book tours with operators listed on the SABBWWA website (http://www.sabbwwa.org.za)

SABBWWA Executive

9 February 2018

Mission Statement

To create a self-regulatory model of a clearly defined and controvesial tourism sector, in accordance with the basic guideline for Responsible Tourism and the development and adherence to Best Practice principles.

Our Role

To provide a self-governing and self-regulatory body to present the industry. To provide a common and unified communication vehicle between individual operators, Marine & Coastal Management (MCM).


In terms of Regulations of the Marine Living Resources Act (1998):It is an offence to approach any whale closer than the 300m’s without a permit. SABBWWA’s member base consists of over 80% of South Africa’s permitted operators.


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©2022 SABBWWA - South African Boat Based Whale Watching Ass.

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