Environmental Education and Awareness

Published: 02 September 2021
Last edited: 02 September 2021

Education & awareness is key to a successful shark-safety strategy and we work hard to provide factual, non-sensational information about  shark-safety to visitors to our beaches so that they can make informed decisions about risk when entering the water. We also aim to foster a greater understanding of sharks and their important role in the ecosystem in order to change people’s perspective of sharks, from fear to acceptance.

Our Info Centre serves as an interactive space for the public to connect with the program and access information about sharks and marine conservation, seeing thousands of local and international visitors every year. We also perform numerous educational outreach activities in our surrounding communities, reaching +/- 3,000 participants directly and many thousands more through festivals and exhibitions we participate in. We have developed a marine safety and conservation education program for all ages, from pre-primary to University level, with many aspects aligned with the South African CAPS curriculum.

Our unique mobile app provides real time shark-safety information and other beach conditions for all our operating beaches. This is an invaluable tool for visitors to the area to ensure they have the most up to date information about shark risk before visiting the coast.

 

Classifications

Category
Alliance and partnership development
Communication, outreach and awareness building
Education, training and other capacity development activities
Scale of implementation
Local
Phase of solution
Implementation

Enabling factors

Buy in from local education facilities and communities to empower their students and citizens to learn more about responsible ocean use.

Engaging content that instills new values in learners and allows them to make changes to their daily activities to minimise harm to the ocean.

Strong relationships with local media to disseminate information and change the narrative from sensational to more reasoned discourse around shark bite incidents.

Lessons learned

Need to be adaptable to changing circumstances (e.g., coronavirus pandemic limiting "in-person" interventions).

The need for buy-in from the private sector to fund education initiatives as part of their corporate social investment initiatives.

The need for training in conflict-resolution to manage polarising views and get the message across in a form that does not exclude certain sectors. For example, managing the complex balance between keeping surfers and swimmers safe from sharks and potentially scaring them away from the beach, or significantly impacting their recreation time, resulting in negative sentiments to the programme or sharks. Also, dealing with different user groups that have conflicting views on the need to protect sharks, like fishermen and bathers.

The importance of environmental education in empowering people through greater understanding to encourage behaviour change and active participation in conservation efforts.

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