Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has published the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Guideline for Aquaculture in South Africa, for public comment in Gazette No. 36145 of 11 February 2013.
Aquaculture incorporates the breeding, trading or rearing of aquatic organisms in a controlled or selected aquatic environment for the purposes of recreation, commercial or subsistence.
Published under section 24J of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998), the guideline seeks to, amongst others, align the EIA process and environmental authorisations to the specific nature of aquaculture.
It also seeks to identify and promote awareness of the potential positive and negative impacts associated with aquaculture and present measures of mitigation to the potential impacts of aquaculture.
"Aquaculture does not take place in a vacuum and the guideline emphasises this and provides particulars around the authorisation requirements in aquaculture underpinned by various environmental legal frameworks, including the Biodiversity Act, the Protected Areas Act and the Waste Act," said the department.
The guideline also highlights the scale of the potential impacts of aquaculture and the risks posed to the environment if aquaculture is not implemented along the principles of sustainability.
Aquaculture has the potential to impact on water, biodiversity, ecosystems and wild fish stocks. As such, the need for integrated planning that is flexible and detailed in the sustainable operation of an aquaculture venture is stressed.
The newfound support from government, the growing need for integrated use of resources and the socio-economic needs behind the diversification of food production has led to a rapid growth in the aquaculture sector.
In 2009/2010, the Department of Environmental Affairs identified a gap in the sector. Several role players lacked adequate information on the environmental aspects of the aquaculture sector.
The department developed this information and guideline document covering all aspects relating to the environment of the aquaculture sector to assist all stakeholders, environmental practitioners, academics, aquaculturalists and the general public.
Molewa said that the implementation of this guideline would assist with the creation of an environmentally responsible and more sustainable aquaculture industry.
"It is envisaged that the principles outlined in this guideline will result in the development of environmentally sustainable projects and ultimately an environmentally responsible aquaculture sector for South Africa," she said.
Interested and affected parties are invited to submit written comments to the Minister within 30 days of publication of the notice in the Gazette.
Comments received after 30 days may not be considered. Written comments or inputs can be delivered by hand, mail, email or telefax transmission.
It should be addressed to: The Director-General: Department of Environmental Affairs, Attention Mr S Zondi, Private Bag X 447, Pretoria, 0001.
If delivering by hand, it should be to the 2nd Floor (Reception), Fedsure Forum Building, 315 Pretorius Street, Pretoria, or by email to: az.vog.tnemnorivne@idnozs or by fax +27 (0) 12 310 3688