Safe to say the majority of surfers think that the proposed fish farm off Pollock is a really kak idea. There's a bunch of reasons as to why it's a dumb-ass spot to put a fish farm. Let's start with kak. Literally. Fish poo. Lots of it.
Fully developed the area zoned for fish farming could hold 9 commercial fish farms. With each farm having approximately 35 big cages (30m diameter by 15m deep), that's a total of 315 cages producing about 30 000t of fish a year. That's a LOT of fish kakking just 2k's away from where we surf and swim.
Made worse by the fact that the predominant currents in this part of the bay will carry all the kak straight towards us. The marine specialist study done as part of the EIA reckons that the current speeds are also too slow about 70% of the time to properly disperse all the waste - so it's just gonna hang about. Great. Not.
The whole concept of expecting the ocean to clean up the mess you make is really flawed anyhow. Marine aquaculture has got it pretty wrong with it's approach of "the solution to pollution is dilution".
It has been widely assumed that the effluent from fish cages would just be diluted by the sea if the cages were kept a reasonable distance from shore. But recent results from a new Stanford University computer simulation based on sophisticated fluid dynamics show that the icky stuff will travel farther, and in higher concentrations, than had been generally assumed. So no - a fish farm just 2k's off of PE's main surfing and swimming beaches is NOT far enough.
Besides 30 000t of fish pee'ing and poo'ing right next to us, there's also the issue of all the chemicals & disinfectants used to clean the cages. That stuff is also not so lekker to swim and surf in, and can be directly toxic to non-target organisms, remaining active in the environment for a long time. And don't forget all the antibiotics and stuff they treat the fish with - cos sticking a whole bunch of fish in a cage means they can get parasites and diseases pretty easy - so yah, all that stuff goes into the water too.
All these waste streams really can bogger up both the water quality as well as affect marine life on the sea floor. Sediment (a polite term for kak and stuff) can settle on all the reefs nearby and can screw them up good and proper. So, now you're pissing the divers off as well. The bay has some really cool reefs, which are home to unique species. Might be saying goodbye gone to these if the fish farm goes ahead.
The shots below are from Dr Shirley Parker-Nance, a marine biologist at NMMU, who has been documenting all the unique species we have right here on the reefs just off Pipe. To say she ain't stoked on the fish farm idea would be an understatement.
Although the management plan of a fish farm entails monitoring of the water quality by the commercial operators themselves, my guess is that anyone marking their own homework is gonna give themselves good marks even if they not doing too well. Cos if they've sunk tens of millions of bucks into it, it best make em some cash - and it certainly doesn't suit em to get fingered for polluting the water and maybe having to shut up shop.
So, reason #1 on the list of the many reasons the fish farm proposal sucks is how it's gonna screw with water quality - which will affect us water users, as well as the marine environment such as reef species and soft corals.
Looking forward to a chance at surfing in miff water if it goes ahead? Not me.
Next post coming soon - will the fish farm result in an increase in the number of sharks?
Link for graphic: http://www.elcamino.edu/faculty/tnoyes/Extra/pew_aquaculture.pdf