Have your say — St Helena Bay coastal waters discharge permits under review

File Picture: Independent Newspapers

File Picture: Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 15, 2024


In a bid to enhance environmental protection measures, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) has initiated a review of Coastal Waters Discharge Permits (CWDPs) issued to fish processing facilities in St Helena Bay.

This move comes as part of a wider effort to regulate pollution from land-based sources, marking a significant step towards ensuring water quality preservation in the area.

In compliance with the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act 24 of 2009 (ICM Act), which governs pollution originating from land-based sources, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) has mandated the acquisition of Coastal Waters Discharge Permits (CWDPs) or General Discharge Authorisations for entities discharging effluent into coastal waters.

Four prominent fish processing establishments (FPEs) operating within St Helena Bay - Lucky Star, West Point Processor, Pioneer Fishing, and Amawandle - have been historically utilising CWDPs for effluent discharge.

However, with the enactment of the ICM Act, a review process has been initiated to establish effluent discharge limits based on the 90th percentile of the FPEs' effluent monitoring results from January 2022 to December 2022.

Under the review, effluent improvement limits will be set, requiring a 20% annual enhancement of interim limits for all FPEs. To meet these stricter standards, the FPEs will be obligated to upgrade their infrastructure, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and fostering sustainable practices.

Recognising the significance of public engagement in environmental stewardship, an extension has been granted to facilitate public comments on the review of CWDPs issued to fish processing facilities in St. Helena Bay.

Interested parties are encouraged to submit their comments either by hand or via email to the Director of Coastal Pollution Management at the DFFE. Submissions must reach the department by February 29, 2024 to be considered in the review process.

In the context of fish processing facilities, the discharge of effluent into coastal waters is a critical concern.

For instance, in St. Helena Bay, the four fish processing establishments named above have historically discharged effluent into coastal waters using Coastal Waters Discharge Permits (CWDPs) obtained prior to the enforcement of the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Act23.

The review process of these CWDPs aims to amend inconsistencies in their conditions, establish uniformity, and ensure gradual and consistent improvement of water quality in St. Helena Bay over a five-year period.

This call for public input underscores the collective responsibility in safeguarding our coastal ecosystems and underscores the commitment of regulatory authorities to uphold environmental standards for the well-being of present and future generations.

Comments may be hand-delivered to:

The Director: Coastal Pollution Management

Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment

1 East Pier Building, East Pier Road

V&A Waterfront,

Cape Town

Attention: Dr Yazeed Peterson

Or submitted via email to [email protected].

Copies of the current CWDPs together with proposed amendments can be downloaded from the department’s website here or obtained via email from [email protected]. Hard copies of these documents can be obtained from any of the four FPF companies mentioned above. Any enquiries may be directed to Rueben Molale on 021 819 2493.