A decision has not been made yet on a fish farm for Algoa Bay – and the possible site off Hobie Beach has also not yet been discounted.
That is the word from the Department of Forestry and Fisheries, which was responding to questions about the latest status of the proposed fish farm.
Fisheries spokeswoman Palesa Mokomele said Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa had called for socioeconomic and ecological studies to be done comparing two possible sites – Algoa 1 off Hobie Beach and Algoa 5 on the east side of the bay between St Croix and Bird islands.
“To date, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has appointed a consultant to undertake this study,” she said.
An outcry erupted in 2014 and continued through last year about the proposed Hobie Beach site.
Concerns voiced included that faeces and food waste from the densely packed fish cages would damage the reefs in the area and create an oily film on the surface.
This would attract sharks and negatively affect beach recreation, tourism and watersports, the protesters argued.
Following this opposition, Molewa ruled in August last year that the decision to site the fish farm off Hobie should revert to her department for integrated environmental authorisation.
More than six months later, with still no word on the matter, rumours are flying that the site has been scrapped.
Asked for clarity, Mokomele said, however, that this was incorrect.
“No final decision was made on the objection,” she said.
Asked why the department did not consider a land-based fish farm, she said the aim was to look at all possibilities.
“It is important to diversify aquaculture activities, therefore both sea-based and land-based sites are being perused.”
SANParks’s Port Elizabeth-based national marine coordinator Anè Oosthuizen said they had major concerns about Algoa 5 as a possible site, because of its proximity to the Addo Elephant National Park’s marine zone and because it would fall within SANParks’s proposed marine protected area.
Its proximity to St Croix was also a serious issue, she said.