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.