In Saldanha, small-scale fishing communities say oil and gas drilling threatens their resources and takes the food off their tables, since marine life will be at greater risk. Picture Supplied
In Saldanha, small-scale fishing communities say oil and gas drilling threatens their resources and takes the food off their tables, since marine life will be at greater risk. Picture Supplied

Worry that powerships may impact small-scale fishers

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Mar 31, 2021

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Cape Town - Environmentalists, small-scale fishing communities and lobby groups are urging members of the public to have their say on Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s draft Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) on the proposed gas to power powerships projects at three South African ports.

The three ports are Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape, Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal and Ngqura, Eastern Cape.

A powership is a fully self-contained floating power station.

The country recently signed a R218 billion, 20-year contract for the provision of electricity directly to the national grid with Karpowership, a unit of Turkey’s Karadeniz Energy Group.

This contract is anticipated to cost R10.9bn annually, and according to the government, will ensure the provision of reliable and consistent electricity, vital for curbing electricity deficits and enabling an energy transition.

According to the social and environmental justice organisation, Green Connection, this deal could be devastating for the country’s affected small-scale subsistence fishing communities.

Green Connection activist Liziwe McDaid said: “While it is important that South Africa urgently resolves its electricity problems, it is as important that the government makes its decisions based on good, thorough data.”

McDaid is encouraging South Africans to submit their own comments even at the eleventh hour, and said: “The country’s choices should always be in the best interest of the people, the environment, and then the economy.”

Since Human Rights Day, March 21, fishing communities and lobby groups such as Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA) have been taking to beaches along South Africa’s coastline to let the public know of the ongoing threat to the ocean from oil and gas drilling and exploration.

In a statement Masifundise said: “Small-scale fishing activities are an integral part of many coastal and inland communities. They represent a significant source of income and form part of their livelihoods.”

Cape Argus

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