Algoa Bay Fish Farm may have hit a snag

FEBRUARY 12, 2015

The proposed Algoa Bay Fish Farm, which is to be located in the Nelson Mandela Bay, may have hit a snag. Following sharp disputes with Port Elizabeth environmentalists and businesses, the Department of Environmental Affairs says it might have erred when it gave the green light for the project without enough information. 

‎Director of Legal Services at Department of Environmental Affairs, Ziyaad Hassam, told the SABC, “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." 

Previously, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishers Minister Senzeni Zokwana said that 25 “key stakeholders” were engaged during the public participation process for the proposed Algoa Bay Fish Farm, which is expected to be the first government-sanctioned project of its kind in South Africa. 

Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, also said that all legal requirements regarding public participation on the proposed Algoa Bay Fish Farm, had been met.

Opposition to the Algoa Bay Fish Farm

More than 123 written objections have reportedly been received by the Department.

Port Elizabeth-based marine biologist Shirley Parker-Nance says that the project will have a disastrous effect on the Algoa Bay marine ecology as it 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," she told the SABC.

Local tourism and water sports companies also say their business will be negatively affected if the farm goes ahead. 

A local tourism expert, Peter Myles, also said, “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." 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape recently threw its weight behind those opposed to the proposed site of the Algoa Bay Fish Farm project. This was after the party took “into account the uncommunicated nature of the project as well as the potential financial impact”, it said.

“Following the recent meeting to engage the public on the contentious issue of the Algoa Bay Fish Farm, it has become clear that the process to date has not included sufficient public participation at any level,” Chris Roberts, DA councillor and Spokesperson: Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, said in a statement.

“The metro faces potential tourism Rand losses of around R13 billion, but the main role players, viz Tourism and Business, were kept in the dark and were uninformed as to the nature of the project.”

It said that the Algoa Fish Farm should be moved to the Coega IDZ's Port of Ngqura.

The Department of Environmental Affairs is currently studying appeals against the continuation of the project.

If the Algoa Bay Fish Farm 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.