The proposed government sanctioned fish farm in Port Elizabeth has hit a snag.
The project is embroiled in sharp disputes with environmentalists and is currently under appeal with the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The fish farm is the first government-sanctioned project of its kind in South Africa.
Marine biologist Shirley Parker-Nance explains, “The farm will farm with a predatory fish, a fish that eats other fish. So to feed this fish they need to catch wild pelagics like pilchards and anchovies which are rich in fat and protein.
The modest conversion rate is 2.1kg anchovies to 1kg of yellowtail. So it does not alleviate the pressure on our wild stocks at all.”
The tourism and water sports industries will be directly affected.
Tourism expert Peter Myles says, “A zone 2,5km off the main beach front puts a risk for a very lucrative industry and if you do a direct comparison, our fish industry in Port Elizabeth is valued at R34 million and it supports over 1000 jobs. Compare that with the beach front which generates R2 billion and supports 15 000 jobs.”
Algoa Bay is also very popular with water users like surfers, ocean swimmers and life savers, all of whom are objecting against the fish farm, which will increase the likelihood of sharks coming into the bay. This fact is acknowledged in the Impact Studies.
The Department of Environmental Affairs is currently studying appeals against the continuation of the project as research shows that worldwide, 80% of tourism is coastal.
The department’s Ziyaad Hassam says, “The minister is now in a far better position than when the department was when it made the original decision.
So all of this this will be brought to her attention. There are examples where a decision has been overturned on appeal or decisions modified.”
If the project goes ahead it will be rolled out over five years and will consist of more than 315 boom-type structures, each with a diameter of 30 metre and 15 metre long nets.