Overview of human damage to Langebaan Lagoon over past half a century
Save Langebaan Lagoon
A thought provoking outlook from a long time Langebaan resident:
“I have strong feelings about the human damage to our beautiful lagoon during my time here. I list them , for interest.
In the 50’s the whale factory polluted the lagoon with whale waste and oil and attracted many dangerous sharks to the area. I witnessed many being shot while feeding on dead whales. The smell of the dead whales and boiling blubber was nauseous. When whaling terminated no alternative employment was made available to Langebaan workers who depended on the whaling business. The only alternative was subsistence fishing which became the lifeblood of the local community.
In the late 70’s early 80’s when SAN Parks arrived on the scene the Panoramic hotel was closed, eliminating more jobs for locals. In addition to this, subsistence fishing was dealt a fatal blow when SAN Parks restricted local fishers to less than 10 permits( exact number subject to correction). These permits were/are restricted to harder only, any other catch must be returned to the sea, dead or alive. Yet recreational fishers are unlimited in number of permits (over peak season may exceed a hundred) and may catch any species ( in defined quantities).
The sad cause of subsistence fishers has been subject to court action and is an ongoing festering wound in the community.
When the ore terminal was proposed and town hall meetings held to convince the community of its merits, it was said that there would be no pollution, a wave machine was demonstrated which was intended to show that changing currents and wave action would have no environmental impact. It was also said that the terminal/ smelter would have no adverse impact on the area’s water resources. The promoters said slag dumps would not be an environmental threat because slag would be used to make bricks.
Of course none of these assertions proved true. The area is blanketed with red iron ore dust; the damage to lungs of the local residents in this zone must be a serious physical and psychological threat ,many houses were damaged by wash-aways due to changed wave/currents and iron ore dust, and huge amounts spent on an unsightly quarry stone shoreline and groynes . Local farmers have long decried the falling water-table and dried up boreholes, hearsay is that many farms in the area have failed. Of course the blasting to deepen the harbour killed many fish – collateral damage. Mr v Wyk (?) of The Water Trust has very important facts identifying the damage to fish stocks and species change due to food source depletion due to heavy metal contamination and pollution at the ore loading jetty.
Increased international shipping has introduced invasive alien Black mussels on a large scale.
All this goes to show that the powers that be have a deplorable record of environmental assessment and an even worse record of environmental management.
Future generations will sadly inherit a lagoon in far worse condition than we found the lagoon, it has been degraded significantly.”
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