Fish farm meeting delayed
The second round of public participation proposed for Algoa Bay fish farm has been temporarily delayed due to the large volumes of comments from concerned parties.
This was revealed in an e-mail addressed to stakeholders at 3pm on Friday by Cape Town-based Anchor Environmental Consultants representative Vera Massie.
The e-mail said the application phase received large volumes of comments during the pre-application phase, which closed in April.
“We are compiling the Draft Basic Assessment Report by incorporating the input from stakeholders received during the pre-application phase.
"We anticipate that the application phase public participation round will commence in the first week of July 2019.
"Please note that the next phase of the public participation process will include a public meeting in Port Elizabeth,” it said.
“You will be notified of the opening and duration of the public participation phase, as well as the details of the public meeting. We apologise for the delay and appreciate your patience.”
This comes after the deadline for concerned parties who want to comment on the 629-page study on the proposed fish farms had until the end of April to do so.
According to the Anchor report, the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries is pushing for a three-prong aquaculture option, including fin fish (yellowtail or kob) and bivalves (oysters or mussels) at the Summerstrand site, just more than 2km offshore.
At a public meeting at the Port Elizabeth City Hall on March 7 residents raised concerns, including that, if the Summerstrand site was approved, it could attract sharks and generate pollution from the high faecal load from the caged fishes, antibiotics used to curb disease and detergents to clean the cages.
Some residents said pollution could be pushed onto beaches by the Bay’s strong onshore winds, jeopardizing safe bathing for residents and Port Elizabeth’s status as a major watersports hub.
Others warned that the pollution would coat reefs and upset the unique natural balance in Algoa Bay and, as a result, the local fisheries, tourism and watersport industries.
At the meeting, Massie’s colleague Dr Kenneth Hutchings said comments received would be used to update the basic assessment report and a second and third public meeting would be held thereafter.
The report marks a new effort to launch aquaculture in Algoa Bay after an initial proposal ran into heavy weather five years ago.
Then environment minister Edna Molewa approved a fish farm project at the Summerstrand site but then, in 2014, in the face of sustained opposition from residents, she withdrew her approval to allow for further research and alternative possible sites to be identified.
A date for the second meeting is yet to be released.