MIASA has echoed concerns about a proposed massive new aquaculture project earmarked for several sites around Saldanha.

In a lengthy submission in response to public comment, MIASA chief executive Vanessa Davidson has highlighted the potential negative impacts on several maritime stakeholders in the Saldanha area, as well as on the local tourism sector in general.

Davidson said MIASA supported aquaculture development as a key driver of economic development – a key element of government’s Operation Phakisa national development programme. However the proposed scale of the Saldanha aquaculture project was problematic and could be counter-productive in terms of job creation. “ MIASA supports the efforts of Operation Phakisa and the Aquaculture Lab in improving economic opportunities afforded by shellfish and fish cultivation,” Davidson said. “MIASA acknowledges that there are opportunities for some boat builders and marine engineers to service the proposed aquaculture expansion.” However the four areas currently proposed for the project were currently used for fishing, sailing, scub-diving, power-boating and kite surfing, among other activities, Davidson said. “Each of these recreational users will utilise the four areas in different ways and should the current zones be approved there will be an impact on a number of these activities,” she said.

Several water-based events would also be affected, including the popular Langebaan Downwind Race and annual sailing regattas.

“The economic impact of the loss of these events could not be ascertained, nor the associated visitor spend in the Saldanha Bay municipality. With limited time MIASA is unable to ascertain if the events could be accommodated elsewhere but surmises that race rules and safety considerations would make it unlikely,” Davidson said in her submission.

She recommended that a multi-user approach be employed in future to re-examine the proposed area allocations.

The full MIASA submission will be downloaded on the MIASA site shortly.

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