The South Africa Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries (DEFF) has granted an environmental authorization for a sea-based aquaculture development zone nearly six years after the first one was issued and withdrawn because of protests by environmentalists about the likely negative impact of the project on the environment.
The DEFF said the authorization has been granted “following a number of specialist studies and an environmental impact assessment to determine the likely effects the proposed development would have on the environment.”
The department, which is headed by Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy, said the EIA process “took into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural, and human-health impacts.”
Three sites named Algoa 1 near Summerstrand, Algoa 6 adjacent to Port Elizabeth, and Algoa 7 in front of Ngqura harbor – all in South Africa’s Eastern Cape – have been identified for the development of finfish and bivalve projects under the authorization.
“The authorization covers the expansion of the existing oyster farming in the Port Elizabeth harbor, and allows for the opening of two new sites in the Bay,” DEFF said.
This is the second time an environmental authorization is being granted for this aquaculture project in the last six years. The first authorization was granted in 2010, but withdrawn in 2014 in response to numerous appeals against it by various environmental and community groups.
The objections were particularly against the development of an aquaculture development zone at Algoa 5, a location that is opposite the already government-approved Addo Marine Protected Area.
“The granting of the environmental authorization comes after a lengthy process started in 2009, and which has seen potential sites withdrawn from the list because of the effects they would have not only on the environment, but also on shipping, bunkering, size, and ocean conditions,” DEFF said.
Although the department has allowed for fresh appeals against the latest environmental authorization, it also said it hopes the undertaking will progress and attract 2,800 jobs, as well as estimated investments of ZAR 150 million (USD 8.6 million EUR 7.9 million) and ZAR 440 million (USD 25.2 million EUR 23.4 million) in finfish farming and bivalve culture, respectively.
If the development of the aquaculture development zone commences, the management and monitoring of the environmental authorization will be carried out by an aquaculture management committee with membership drawn from various governmental departments and the private sector.
Timelines for the implementation of this aquaculture undertaking have yet to be provided.
Photo courtesy of South Africa Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries/Barbara Creecy