Have Something to Say About Karpowerships? Deadline for Comments is 19 August 2021

The deadline for the public to comment on the appeals against the decision by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) to deny authorization for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Karpowerships, is in less than two weeks. The Green Connection – the environmental justice organization working with small-scale fishing communities to help ensure the sustainability of coastal livelihoods – is gearing up to submit its own comments, in time for the 19 August deadline.

According to the Green Connection’s Strategic Lead Liziwe McDaid, “Fishing communities have raised several valid concerns about the impacts of Karpowerships on their livelihoods. Firstly, too much of the information that should form part of assessment, and which is required to make an informed and well-rounded decision, was not available. But, even more important, is the fact that key stakeholders, those people who would be most affected by having these powerships park in their bay, were not sufficiently consulted. We therefore reiterate, along with fishers, our support for DFFE’s decision to deny the EIA authorisation.”

She says, “A key flaw in the Karpowerships EIA was that it failed to undertake a meaningful underwater noise impact study, which would be of critical importance to small-scale fishers in the coastal areas earmarked. Since our fishing communities depend on these fish for their livelihoods, conducting studies on the impacts on fish (including juvenile fish) and other marine life retrospectively would undermine the purpose of an EIA, which is to put all the possible impacts on the table so that the Dept can make an informed decision. This is particularly relevant to ensuring that proposed projects do not have negative side-effects for people and the marine environments they depend on.”

Carmelita Mostert and Solene Smith from Saldanha Bay and Langebaan Coastal Links, respectively, say they are happy that the DFFE has denied the Karpowerships. They say, “Having these ships in our harbours would be a threat to our fish species. If our fish disappear, we will literally not be able to survive. Our people have been fishing on this coastline for generations. We have an ancestral right to fish in these waters and we will do everything we can to protect that right.”

Barend Fredericks, a small-scale fisher from the Bigai Knysna Community, also welcomes government’s decision. He says, “These ships would have meant 20 years of noise and potential environmental disasters that will affect our fish stocks. We call on the government to seriously consider using renewable energy sources instead of the Karpowership option.”

Small-scale fishers, with Coastal Links Port St John’s in Eastern Cape, Ntsindiso Nongcavu and Pumza Kalimashe say that they hope government does not backtrack on its decision. They say, “This whole process emphasizes the importance of consulting the community in decisions that affect us directly. We are asking government to take us seriously as small-scale fishers because, at the end of the day, small businesses will also help revive our economy, not only the commercial ones. We would prefer that government invest in tourism in our area instead of allowing our environment and livelihoods to be threatened by these power ships.”

Subsistence fisher, Sibusiso Ndidi of the Eastern Cape Environmental Network (ECEN) adds, “We support the government’s decision to deny Karpowerships because there was not enough public participation, since it was done virtually. We are also concerned that these power ships will likely lead to further increases in electricity prices, which consumers must pay. We remain adamant that the only viable solution to South Africa’s power crises is a massive investment, by government, into renewable energy.”

Small-scale fishers rely on the ocean to feed their families and make a life for themselves, and their communities at large. We therefore call on all South Africans to stand in solidarity with our fishing communities to protect our severely at-risk marine resources, as well as their livelihoods.

Feel free to contact The Green Connection on greenconnectcpt@gmail.com should you have any queries about how to make your comment.

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