by Samantha Barnes

Aquaculture in the spotlight

The industry has growth potential

There is investment opportunities in the aquaculture industry
seafood.jpg

Henk Stander, general manager and lecturer at the Aquaculture department at Stellenbosch University is upbeat about future prospects for the industry.

Stander notes: “I believe the South African government is realising the potential that aquaculture has for South Africa in the future, and has actually done a lot of work to encourage investment into the aquaculture industry lately”.  

Bok indicates that the reasons for investing in aquaculture are no longer only strategic – they are a reality. 

“The demand for seafood is increasing beyond what the oceans can produce. The only alternative is aquaculture. The risks of investing should not be overlooked, but the fundamental drivers of the sector cannot be disputed,” Bok says.

Good to know that investment in the sector contributes towards food security.        

Stander attributes overregulation of the industry in the past as a contributory factor to South Africa’s low production volumes. 

He anticipates more development and higher production if legislation becomes more streamlined and supports development. 

“The DAFF has a dedicated department for aquaculture and has appointed quite a number of staff to support the industry,” he says.     

Skilled manpower 

Aquaculture development in Southern Africa is hampered by limited skills. Local opportunities for training in aquaculture are few. Since 2001, Stellenbosch University has presented an “aquaculture education programme” in a distance education format. Grade 12 is a minimum requirement for the certificate course. The one-year course is offered through distance education or to students resident in Stellenbosch and is also offered at around R10 000 through distance education. 

The industry is crying out for skills to develop it further, enhancing participants’ prospects of finding employment on completion of their studies.

New investment nodes developing 

Export data from DAFF, shows that the South African industry is dominated by the Western Cape, which accounts for more than 80% of domestic aquaculture produce, the Eastern Cape is a distant second at 12,75%.    

Stander suggests that the Western Cape leads in aquaculture production, mainly because of the natural resources in the province. 

He adds: “Some of the fishing companies who are historically based in the Western Cape have also expanded into aquaculture.” 

Stander does not believe the government support has skewed statistics in the Western Cape’s favour, as there was very limited support from the government in the past. 

Nevertheless the Cape Aquaculture Development Initiative will become a national institution in the future.

 

 

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