Residents of Hout Bay have complained about the foul odour emitting from the local fish meal factory for as long as the factory has been around. The Fresh Air for Hout Bay (FAHB) organisation was one of the voices that most loudly opposed the Oceana fishmeal factory.
“As many of you are aware, the Oceana fishmeal factory has not been in production since January 2019. Since then, there has been a lot of speculation about what has been happening and FAHB would like to confirm that the factory has been closed,” Kiara Worth, a representative of the FAHB, said via statement.
FAHB represented the residents of Hout Bay who were fed up with the smell, and several petitions were sent to Oceana for them to do something about the smell. While the FAHB did their best to help the residents of the oceanside town, it did acknowledge that the hydrogen sulphide levels in the air are below dangerous levels.
While no official announcements have been made by Oceana or the City, Oceana’s 2019 annual report states that “a strategic decision was taken to close the Hout Bay fishmeal operations”. The closure directly impacted 58 employees, 40 of which were redeployed in other areas within Oceana. In a follow up conversation with Oceana, it was confirmed that over the next few months, plant equipment will be systematically moved out of the space, and this process has already started as cranes began to dismantle parts of the roof of the factory over the weekend.
Oceana’s lease will expire at the end of 2020, during which time they will clean and clear out the space. The National Department of Public Works (DPW) controls all lease agreements in the harbour, and there is currently no clarity on what their intentions for development are.
“We do know that discussions about a broader harbour development plan have been taking place, following the motion to ‘re-imagine Hout Bay harbour’. No further information is yet available regarding the status of these plans or the type of developments scheduled to take place,” Worth said.
Aside from these plans, Oceana has invested in a multi-million rand development in collaboration with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), to establish the Oceana Maritime Academy in Hout Bay. This academy is still being developed and Oceana will provide further announcements regarding this.
“As the air emissions from Oceana have stopped, FAHB’s work has come to an end,” Worth added. “Since our formation in 2014, FAHB has advocated for a sustainable harbour development plan to be put in place and it’s hard to believe that after more than five years of advocacy and persistence, this plan might finally be in sight.”
While the end of the polluting emissions marks a huge step forward for progressive and sustainable development in Hout Bay, the closure of the factory is also the end of an era.
“We would like to thank everyone for all the support you have shown us over the years, from subscribing to our website, filling in affidavits, registering complaints, engaging with the City, and helping to raise awareness about the impact of the emissions,” Worth said. “Thank you again to everyone and may our beautiful community to thrive!”