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No to Fish Farms in Algoa Bay. Yes to rehabilitating the Swartkops Estuary.

No to Fish Farms in Algoa Bay. Yes to rehabilitating the Swartkops Estuary.

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This petition has been created by Gary K. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
Gary K.
started this petition to
DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries)
Algoa Bay is our unique hope spot. Not only home to a rich interlinked system of beaches, reefs and creatures, it’s also the provider of jobs and income to thousands of Nelson Mandela Bay citizens. Those jobs, and future jobs depend on us being stewards of this resource we are privileged to call home.

Being good stewards means understanding how the puzzle pieces of our bay fit together. Change one piece and the whole puzzle changes.

Factories provide most of our jobs at the moment. And those factories are in the metro because of the Bay’s unique situation of having two ports. But factories cannot provide us with all the jobs we need and so we have to find additional sources. And it’s the Bay’s natural resources that offer the opportunity.

People travel from all over the world to experience our colourful underwater world, to swim in our seas and play on our beaches. All of that is possible because of how our Bay’s unique features combine to offer a home to penguins, dolphins, whales, fish of all shapes, sizes and colours and yes, sharks too.

And those unique features also have meant Algoa Bay becoming a preferred spot to host water-based sporting events, such as the Nippers National (life-saving) Champs, the IronMan, the Ocean Racing Series, the Bellbouy Swim and other surfing and related events.

DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), with their Operation Phakiso  hats on, also see an opportunity in the Bay. Their plan (an updated version of their 2015 plan that was suspended by the DEA on appeal) is to bring commercial fish farming to the Bay through the use of sea cages in three locations. A maximum of 82 cages off our northern beaches, another 82 cages off our southern beaches and 5 new bivalve farms next to the current oyster farm, just north of Port Elizabeth Harbour.

DAFF have to get approval from the DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) for this plan. Once they have the DEA’s approval, they can then sell off licences to run commercial farms in those designated zones.

But their plan (known as a BAR – Basic Assessment Report) is missing key pieces of the puzzle. They haven’t done the necessary homework. Put a single fish cage in the water close to the beaches and people will stop swimming. The swim related events will stop. DAFF know that the fish farms are likely to create a new food source for sharks that pose a risk to humans but argue that monitoring of sharks will solve it. No way.

But sharks are not the real risk. The real risk lies in the loss of jobs for those who are employed in the hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, restaurants, shops, transport, cleaning and other businesses that rely on our beaches being clean and safe and the sport events that use the nearshore. Despite agreeing in the 2015 appeal to go away and assess that risk, DAFF have not done so.

Read up on the problems with fish farms at Reunion Island, Washington State’s Atlantic Salmon farms, the Chile Fish Farms or even our own prawn farm that's now a dilapidated ruin and the lesson is clear: fish farms only work if you understand the whole puzzle.

And a Marine Spatial Plan is best placed to do that, it’s on its way for our Bay, but DAFF isn’t waiting, they’re forging ahead. They’re ignoring key bits of feedback from their own experts, they’re side-stepping warnings by marine scientists who know the Bay, and their complicated risk formula ignores the blindingly obvious feedback from the public – put a cage in the water and the perception of the beaches and surf changes immediately. There isn’t a viable way to mitigate that impact.

But there’s an alternative. There’s no need for DAFF to bring a fight to the Bay. Estuaries are the natural nurseries of fish stock that have been providing livelihoods for our small-scale fishing communities for generations. Restore the Swartkops Estuary, restore its place in the puzzle of our Bay and everyone benefits. It’s a no-brainer. But DAFF seem to be locked into only one solution.

It’s up to us as people who love our Bay to say, no way, there’s a better way. No to the DAFF fish farms in Algoa Bay. Yes to rehabilitating the Swartkops Estuary.

Please sign this petition and forward it to other lovers of the Bay in order to let DAFF know just how bad idea it is to be locked into a one-solution-fits-all.

#NoDAFFfishyfarm #MyBaymyDay #SavetheBay

Also visit the Algoa Bay Hope Spot Facebook Page (https://web.facebook.com/algoabayhopespot/) for more information on how you can get involved, look out for upcoming WESSA Algoa Bay Branch events and visit https://www.zwartkopsconservancy.org for more on our awesome estuary.  ( photo credit to Lloyd Edwards )

Posted (Updated )