Langebaan residents plan beach protest in bid to sink lagoon aquaculture plan

Residents of Langebaan objecting to a massive planned aquaculture project for the Langebaan lagoon are to stage a protest on Sunday at the town’s main beach.

Langebaan lagoon is one of the country’s top sailing training grounds and a popular recreational site for sailors‚ fishermen and kite-surfers. It is also a popular overnight stopover for luxury boats in search of shelter along the west coast.

But a state-sanctioned project proposes a 1‚404-hectare aquaculture area spread across much of the lagoon‚ cutting into popular sailing routes.

Led by the Department of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries‚ the project falls under the government’s Operation Phakisa economic development programme and proposes large-scale fish and mussel farming in designated areas.

 Groups of concerned residents is appealing to residents to join the protest action.

“The action groups Save Langebaan Lagoon and People Against Saldanha Aquaculture are appealing to the public to assist them in their quest to protect the lagoon from irreparable damage and pollution due to impractical and risky fish-farming practices‚” the groups said in a Facebook post.

 “Save Langebaan Lagoon action group is not against aquaculture as an industry – we recognise the role that aquaculture can play in contributing to employment creation‚ food security and addressing the overexploitation of wild marine resources.

“We therefore would welcome an on-shore aquaculture development in the vicinity of Langebaan. We strongly object to fish and mussel farming in Langebaan’s waters‚ which will unduly compromise the numerous ecosystem services that the lagoon provides to the Langebaan community.

“Situated in the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve‚ Langebaan is a top birding destination of international repute. The extensive intertidal area of the lagoon supports up to 55 000 water birds in summer‚ most of which are waders.

 “The five islands to the north of the lagoon provide a home for nearly a quarter of a million sea birds‚ and include important breeding sites for endemic populations.

 “Twelve% of the global population of black oystercatchers are found in the Langebaan area.”