Local fishers say they are worried about their survival as Minister Barbara Creecy received the request for environmental authorisation for the Karpowerships.
“We are nothing. We are absolutely zero,” says Carmelita Mostert of Saldanha Coastal Links, a community organisation established as a vehicle for small-scale fishers to secure their livelihoods and overall human rights.
Mostert’s statement comes after hearing Creecy has been sent Triplo4’s final environmental impact assessment (EIA) report regarding Karpowerships. The report recommends that the project go ahead subject to several mitigation measures, however the mitigation measures are not mentioned.
“I am exceptionally frustrated and saddened that our pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” says Mostert. “Especially since we had a face-to-face Zoom meeting with the Minister, where we raised our concerns. It is obvious that the government does not care about our communities, who literally depend on the oceans for their daily bread.
“The presence of these ships, off our coast, will have a real impact in scaring off the fish in the area, and we fishers will be the people going hungry. I read these developments with tears in my eyes, our already scarce fish reserves will be killed by these ships,” says Mostert.
Green Connection’s Liziwe McDaid calls on locals to act. “There seems to be an agenda to force the project ahead despite social, environmental and economic concerns. Something is fishy in South Africa’s energy sector,” McDaid says.
The Green Connection’s Community Outreach Coordinator Neville van Rooy says: “We are still studying the report, however, a key issue which is cause for concern, is why the government would consider a 20-year deal as a solution to a current emergency situation. These ships will be anchored off our coastline for 20 years, creating noise pollution constantly, which can be heard for more than a kilometre. The presence of these ships in the ocean will also have a fatal impact on birdlife in the area with an estimated 155 birds being killed annually as a result.”
Opposition for the proposed project has also come from the West Coast Business Chamber. Chairperson André de Villiers believes the project will have a negative impact on the local community saying local business won’t necessarily benefit from the million rand project.
Van Rooy says it is difficult to understand why the government is looking for international solutions to South African problems “when we have everything we need right here”.
“They keep ignoring the people – who have solutions and ideas to contribute – and just do their own thing. We want to remind Minister Creecy that part of her job is to protect the environment and to ensure energy sustainability. She should not be enabling the Department of Mineral resources and Energy in their dubious agendas.”
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