Smell clouds Hout Bay factory celebrations

Fawu members protesting a plan to close down Oceana's Hout Bay factory. (Picture: Matthew le Cordeur)
Fawu members protesting a plan to close down Oceana's Hout Bay factory. (Picture: Matthew le Cordeur)

Cape Town – While the decision to keep the Oceana fishmeal factory in Hout Bay open has been hailed as a victory for the poor, a lobby group has vowed to fight the "stink".  

The Hout Bay Civic Association (HBCA), which hailed the continued operation of the ‘smelly’ Oceana fishmeal factory in Hout Bay as a victory for the poor, said on Thursday closure of the factory would have meant a loss of jobs and investment in the community through CSI programmes.

“The Hout Bay Civic Association is unapologetic about its stance to support the factory remaining open as this is about the economic development and livelihood of the community,” the HBCA said in a statement.

Oceana announced on Tuesday that it would no longer close down its controversial fishmeal factory which faced growing anger from a group of residents who were unhappy with the smell emitted by the factory.

The company had not made a profit for three years after cutting back its fishing days from 120 to 60, to stem calls from the Fresh Air for Hout Bay (FAHB) group to shut down.

Oceana has managed to renew its lease with the Department of Public Works for five years and confirmed its atmospheric licence with local government.
The HBCA called on Oceana to “continue and increase” it’s social and economic footprint in Hout Bay and to increase the days of production and jobs in the factory.

“The Hout Bay Civic Association rejects any attempt to convert the harbour to only a tourist hotspot as the community strongly feels it’s a fishing harbour and should remain as such,” it said.

In a statement on Thursday the FAHB said while it was relieved to know there was job security for the 98 workers, it remained concerned about the “negative impact of the odour on everyday life, and on the positive growth and development of Hout Bay”.

FAHB said it was equally concerned that the profits from an increase of production will not be felt by local communities, but will instead only add to the ever-increasing profit of Oceana.

“We maintain that the odour negatively impacts local businesses, decreases tourism potential and sustainable economic opportunity, compromises the health and well-being of residents, and does not contribute to creating a positive environment for anyone,” the group said.

The group said that the increase in production “will only exacerbate this and we do not believe that full consideration has been made of the broader implications on society”.

It said it remained committed to its objective of eliminating the smell from the fish factory.

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