SA fishermen, oyster farmers fear power ship will kill business

SALDANHA BAY, South Africa, June 18 (Reuters) – A floating gas-turbine generator meant to alleviate South Africa’s crippling power cuts has run into objections by oyster farmers and small-scale fishermen, who fear the environmental injury will destroy their livelihoods.

The seafood sellers fear the 415 megawatt (MW) ship – to be moored for twenty years at Saldanha Bay, 140 km north of Cape Town – will pump scorching water into the bay and make countless noise, spoiling farmed oysters and scaring off fish as Africa’s most industrialised nation scrambles to repair electrical energy issues.


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Responding to complaints by the Green Connection environmental justice group, the South African authorities on June 11 suspended an environmental authorisation application for operator Karpowership in Saldanha Bay. It cited the Green Connection’s allegation that Karpowership did not conduct specialist research on underwater engine noise.

“Our team believes that this complaint is without merit,” Karpowership SA spokesperson Kay Sexwale mentioned on Wednesday.

Saldanha Bay is SA’s first sea-based aquaculture zone, with 16 new entrants welcomed final year to an business value round R1 billion ($72 million) yearly, Fisheries Department officers mentioned.

A couple of minutes from the slipway, multi-coloured buoys and floating black rafts assist pinpoint totally different farm places, as staff pull up lengthy strains of clinging mussels or unique oysters fattened within the nutrient-rich waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

“We don’t believe it can just be benign, sitting there, because it is generating hot water and it is generating a noise factor which can affect the organisms we cultivate,” mentioned Kevin Ruck, proprietor of Blue Sapphire Pearls oyster farm and a skilled marine biologist.

Ruck is nervous that scorching water discharge from the Karpowership vessel could stimulate dangerous algae blooms that might render his succulent oysters inedible.

Started in 2008, his company harvests as much as one million Pacific oysters a year, primarily for the home market, but in addition exported stay to China.

In February, scientists warned that industrial noise beneath the ocean floor was disrupting marine animals’ means to mate, feed and even evade predators.

But extended delays to Karpowership’s bid, which incorporates extra ships at two east coast ports, may disrupt South Africa’s plan to plug its vitality shortfall with 2 000 MW of emergency power.

Karpowership SA mentioned its environmental influence assessments for all three websites “demonstrate little impact to the surrounding air and water environments.”

But, for Saldanha Bay skipper Christie Links, the dangers are too nice.

“Who says the many fish species we depend on will still come into the bay if Karpowership is here?”


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