Lao Tsu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, is credited with saying; “If you give a hungry man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”.
But, what happens if you build a fish farm next to his home?
After attending the first public participation meeting at the City Hall for the proposed fish farm/s in Algoa Bay last night I feel moved to pass comment – not quite moved to pass something else, though. That was the privilege of some of the attendees and, dare I say, facilitators.
Essentially the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAFF) is championing Algoa Bay as the most ideal area to site a fish farm or, as they are wont to call it; an Aquatic Development Zone (ADZ).
Allow me to digress/rant slightly here: The noble citizens of Algoa Bay have always championed the bay as the watersport captital of Africa BUT have failed to actualise that vision in a really meaningful way. It has been said time and again; “Stand together people and unselfishly promote what we have – that joint marketing effort will result in a better life for all!”
Now we are miffed at the fact that someone else has identified Algoa Bay as a way to make money out of an industry that poses a real threat to the vistas as we know them across Algoa Bay.
DAFF is championing this from the following perspectives:
- Part of Operation Phakisa imperatives
- Job Creation
- Food Security
Noble intentions I am sure – the only problem here is that these intentions don’t take the people on the ground into account and seem to be more angled at scoring political points rather than long term stability.
The proposal is for a combination of indigenous finfish and bivalve (mussels/oysters) farming over three farming options.
Four options have been identified for the Fish Farm ranging in impact from Option A (Finfish and Bivalves at the Summerstrand site plus bivalves at the Harbour site plus bivalves at the Coega site) to Option D (no fish farming at all).
DAFF will be asking for Option A.
Certain questions remain unanswered or vague:
- What will the cost of establishment be?
- How many jobs will be created?
- How much fish will be farmed?
- How much of the inverstment will benefit local business?
- How much of the profits will benefit the local economy?
- How much of the profits will be sent overseas?
Fish Farming along the South African coast is not a proven industry and has many negative connotations/questions around possible negative imapcts such as: the genetic contamination of wild stock, general pollution, entanglements of marine wildlife, habitat alteration, increased predator activity and disease and parasite transmission to wild stock.
Algoa Bay already entertains the bulk marine fuel replenishment industry which sees hundreds of vessels per month anchored in our bay waiting for cargo before filling up at one of five (soon to be eight) vessels permanently at anchor. These vessels are in turn replensished by huge bulk fuel carriers sailing the world. The estimates of how much of that money stays in South Africa are pretty poor.
We need to guard against establishing another industry in our bay that will see most of the money staying out of South Africa. We need to champion an industry that will bring money into our bay – the most of which stays here to create jobs.
The jury is still out on the negative impacts that the Fish Farm could have on: Specialist tourism businesses such as Whale Watching and Sardine Run Tours; water sport; sailing; scuba; paddling; Ironman; surfing.
Vessel navigation will be affected and the impact on beachfront property land values could also be negatively affected.
The initial impression from last night’s ‘town hall’ meeting was that the proposal has been cobbled together by outside interests whose only interest in the project is their personal bank balances and not the community on the shores of Algoa Bay.
An undercurrent of poltical negativity using race and privilege as a basis was also apparent and needs to be dialled out of the equation.
Tell us what you think!
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