Wednesday, January 19

Fishing communities fear their livelihoods will be threatened by the Karpowership plan

Fishing communities in Saldanha Bay and Gqeberha are concerned that the recently approved gas powered boats will scare away or even kill the fish on which their livelihoods depend.

“What will happen if we can’t fish? Who is going to put food on the table? How will our fishermen earn income? “asked Carmelita Mostert, a fisherwoman from Saldanha Bay.


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On Tuesday, the South African National Energy Regulator (Nersa) approved the license for gas power generation in Saldanha Bay, Coega and Richards Bay by Karpowership SA.

The environmental organization Green Connection says these floating gas power plants will have a devastating impact on communities that depend on small-scale fishing.

Mostert lives in Saldanha Bay and owns two fishing boats. His father was also a fisherman. “I depend on the sea. I have no other income than the ocean, ”he said.

She was one of half a dozen representatives from small-scale fisheries who spoke at the Oceanic Tribunal on Wednesday in Cape Town, discussing the impact of the oil and gas industry on their communities.

Qqeberha’s Vuyiseka Mani said that while the energy projects promised job opportunities, it would be at the expense of fishing communities.

Civil society organizations have criticized Nersa for approving the licenses despite being environmental clearance denied by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment in June.

In April, writing in the Daily Maverick, Tony Carnie explained: “[P]Ships, like giant kettles, use large volumes of seawater to cool the heat from the gas and steam turbines on board, and then discharge the heated wastewater into the sea. “Increasing the temperature of the water.” it will kill a variety of marine life in the vicinity of the power ships and possibly change the oxygen levels underwater and alter the overall marine ecology around the ports of Richards Bay, Saldanha and Ngqura. ”

Michelle Koyama, a lawyer with the Center for Environmental Rights (CER), said approval without environmental authorization was “premature.”

However, Nersa’s approval only allows the generation of electricity by Karpowership SA, not the construction of infrastructure.

“Until the Environmental Clearance is granted, Karpowership cannot operate or start any construction,” Koyama said.

Koyama said that motor boats will emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The noise generated by the ships had also not been adequately addressed, especially as this could alienate populations of marine animals.

CER, on behalf of environmental group GroundWork, filed objections to Nersa in August. The CER said that motor boats only have a lifespan of about 20 years, making them unnecessarily expensive. In addition, he objected to greenhouse gas emissions and that the project had not received environmental authorization.

Nersa spokesman Charles Hlebela said that environmental authorizations, pollution mitigation and impact on small-scale fishers are not under his jurisdiction.

Read: Outa asks Nersa the reasons behind the approval of Karpowership’s generation licenses

Read: South African banks resist backing emergency power bidders

© 2021 GroundUp. This article was published for the first time here.

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