The proposed Thyspunt Nuclear Plant has caused much controversy in the Eastern Cape coastal areas of Cape St Francis, St Francis Bay and Oyster Bay particularly in the Squid fishing industry.
The controversy is in respect of the plans by Eskom to build a pressurized water reactor in that area. A draft Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) has been published which role players in the Squid industry believe is inadequate. According to newspaper articles, Mr Greg Christie of the South African Squid Management Industry Association stated that due to the superficiality of the report, it has incorrectly assessed the full impacts of the construction and operation of the nuclear plant on the Squid fishery. Also at issue is the lack of consultation during the EIA process of the Squid Scientific Working Group which has long since been established by Marine and Coastal Management.
One of the main issues is the volume of the sand which is to be pumped from an outflow pipe about 1,5km out to sea. The concern of the Squid industry is that the sand and sediments pumped out to sea will effectively create an underwater desert with a 5cm to 10cm layer of sludge on the sea bottom which will discolour and stir up every time the swell or serge currents appears. The effect of this would be that the areas which are presently favourable for Squid egg attachment will be wiped out between Oyster Bay and Seal Bay. If this occurs, then more than 30% of the Squid fishing grounds will be affected.
No doubt the Squid industry will continue to engage and challenge Eskom on this issue in order to protect a very important local fishing sector for the area.