PERLEMOEN ranching is on the cards for Nelson Mandela Bay, Wildlife and Environmental Society of SA (Wessa) conservation officer Morgan Griffiths revealed yesterday.
A public meeting would be held at Pine Lodge in Port Elizabeth next month at which the project wouldbe discussed, Griffiths said.
Ranching involved restocking perlemoen in a protected part of the ocean, he said.
However, the authorities were keeping plans around the project tightly under wraps,
"This could be a good income generator in terms of the activities surrounding the green economy."
The perlemoen ranch would be the third of its kind in South Africa.
"Wessa and other non-governmental organisations [NGOs] have been working hand in hand with the municipality and the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] to combat poaching in the area.
"A few years ago the security situation at Cape Recife was out of control. However, things have calmed down."
Nelson Mandela Bay municipal coastal manager Godfrey Murrell yesterday confirmed plans for perlemoen ranching were at an advanced stage, but would not be drawn on divulging more details because of security concerns.
Griffiths was speaking at the SA Marine Rehabilitation & Education Centre (Samrec) yesterday, the last day of the Bay's version of Marine Week.
Wessa, government departments, the municipality and other environmental organisations put the event together to educate pupils from previously disadvantaged schools about green issues around the marine environment.
The pupils were transported in buses to Samrec, where they were taught about sustainable fishing, marine safety, bait collecting, pollution and beach ecology. They were also given lessons on the importance of recycling and waste management.
One of the stands at Marine Week featured a Motherwell- based recycling project. Two middle-aged women held the pupils' attention with their demonstration of how they turned plastic into saleable items such as bags and hats.
Meanwhile, green NGOs were monitoring the impact of Coega and the extra shipping coming into the Bay, as well as the relocation of the manganese and oil terminals, big polluters that were not built to strict environmental requirements, Griffiths said.
A drive to have a new protected area in the Bird Island group was also ongoing.
The Zwartkops Conservancy's campaign to have the Swartkops estuary declared a Ramsar site had been gaining pace, but the municipality was proceeding with care, Griffiths said.
Ramsar sites are declared important ecological areas and priority wetlands, which are protected by member countries.
The Convention on Wetlands, called the "Ramsar Convention", is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitment of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance and to plan for the "wise" or sustainable use of all wetlands in their territories.
"This [bid to have the estuary declared a Ramsar site] could take three or four years. There was a meeting two or so weeks ago on the matter. There will be a follow-up in the coming weeks. But the municipality is cautious in how it is handling the application.
"In terms of national legislation, the municipality would have to proclaim sections of the Swartkops a formal reserve. It would also have to put tighter controls on pollution, as well as monitor bait diggers," he said.