In the 1980s, aquaculture, or fish farming, was in its infancy, globally. Today, it accounts for close to 50 million tons annually, making up nearly half of all fish products consumed. Of this, Africa has a 1% market share and South Africa accounts for about 1% of the African slice. China and Chile have become huge producers and exporters. Chile’s aquaculture production and exports are intended to rival those of its mineral exports in years to come.
Although South Africa’s high-energy coastline imposes barriers to what it can do, nevertheless, significant potential exists. Draft policy proposals by the Department of Environment and Tourism (DEAT) are welcome but cannot serve the strategic opportunity that avails itself at this point in time and which is outlined in this report.
De Beers’ planned progressive de-commissioning of the coastal Northern Cape diamond areas (as a result of depletion) affords an opportunity to upscale significantly South Africa’s role as a supplier of farmed marine products for domestic and export markets.
Global consumption of fish and fish products has increased greatly, mainly for health reasons, and has become a food of choice, especially in rich developed countries. South African hake (stokvis or stockfish) used to be an affordable staple food for poor people domestically, but market prices attained in Europe have resulted in huge exports of hake while, locally, the fish has become unaffordable to impoverished consumers. Global projections indicate that demand will continue to grow rapidly. In response, developed and developing nations have invested to grow this sector of their economies to meet that demand.In Chile, aquaculture created over 40,000 new direct and indirect jobs over the past 15 years. Although Chile’s conditions are not directly similar to South Africa’s, their regulatory environment, together with their market, marine science (and thus sustainability) and engineering experiences hold lessons for South Africa.
The proposal in this document identifies a single, unique opportunity that can be a catalyst to spur into being a South African aquaculture industry of a notable scale. The proposal identifies the potential opportunities, including where and how obstacles toward this might be removed.