The economic and social effects of the annual sardine run on the indigenous community on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, were assessed using data gathered from questionnaires and personal interviews with 329 members of the community. Their knowledge, perceptions and attitudes about the sardine run, as well as their level of involvement in, and the financial benefits accrued from it, were also assessed. Although around two-thirds of those interviewed were aware of the sardine run and just over half participated in it, only some 17% benefited financially from it. However, despite this low level of participation, the financial benefit to the community could amount to R17–18 million, and as much as R34–54 million if a multiplier effect of 2–3 is applied. There was a high level (over 70%) of willingness to learn more about the event, and to become more involved in training exercises that would allow local people to take advantage of opportunities arising from the sardine run. It is recommended that management strategies and development plans should be implemented towards assisting the indigenous communities to become more involved in the sardine run.