Environmental Authorisation For Algoa Bay Aquaculture Development Zone

SEPTEMBER 12, 2014

The Department of Environmental Affairs has issued authorisation for the development of an Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ) in Algoa Bay.

The authorisation given to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is still subject to appeal to Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa.

Spelling out the reasons for its decision to authorise the 1 000-ton a year finfish facility, the department states that marine aquaculture had the potential “to contribute to the regional income, job creation and skills development”.

The development will have a sea-floor footprint of 30 hectares and a “surface envelope” of 2.5 hectares.

It notes that the 2011 Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) found that the Eastern Cape coast, and specifically Al-goa Bay, was “more favourable than most of the South African coastline”.

As a result it had been selected for fin-fish mariculture.

The department also points out that there is “sufficient capacity” for fish pro-cessing and manufacture in Port Elizabeth and within the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).

Environmental Affairs also points out that DAFF is promoting marine aquaculture “as a means of addressing poverty, unemployment and over-utilisation of wild fish stocks”.

Further, the department notes that the site of the facility avoids sensitive marine environments.

However, it says that despite this, the development will be subject to “active and strict operational monitoring”.

It adds that this will help determine “to what extent commercial finfish farming is the best practicable environmental option compared to other uses in the Bay”.

It is a condition of the authorisation that a specialist is commissioned to conduct shark movement studies within Algoa Bay.

This will focus on changes in “the residency and behaviour of sharks” when the fish farm becomes operational.

Changes in shark movements must be communicated immediately to DAFF, tourist-related industries, the municipality and department.