Source: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Title: van Schalkwyk: Opening of I and J Fin Fish Hatchery
End of commercial fishing by middle of the century unless alternatives such as aquaculture are developed
It gives me great pleasure to address you at the opening of the I and J Fin Fish Hatchery the first of its kind in the country, and a giant step towards making the South African fishing industry more sustainable.
The issues we face in our local fishing industry reflect a global problem. A recent report on global marine biodiversity concluded that if current trends continue, we run a huge risk that fisheries will collapse worldwide by 2048.
The purported reasons for this collapse are, amongst others, illegal and unsustainable fishing practices and environmental impacts such as climate change. However, this scenario will only play itself out if we do nothing differently. There is plenty of hope that the future of fisheries will look decisively brighter if we concentrate on five key principles:
* sustainable use
* responsible allocations of fishing rights within a tight regulatory framework
* collaborative effort underpinned by international agreements
* enforcement and compliance
* the development of alternatives such as aquaculture.
I am therefore heartened by this move, from one of South Africa's oldest and best known fishing companies, to make a serious effort to develop marine aquaculture.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has also recently published a report which provides more detail on global trends that reinforce the importance of developing aquaculture. In 2004, capture fisheries and aquaculture supplied the world with about 106 million tonnes of food fish, providing the highest apparent per capita supply on record. Of this total, aquaculture accounted for 43 percent.
Preliminary estimates for 2005 suggest that total world fishery production reached almost 142 million tonnes. This would represent an increase of over one million tonnes compared with 2004, as well as a new record level of production. There was a decrease in the contribution of capture fisheries to human consumption, but this was offset by an increase in the aquaculture contribution.
These facts tell a story: aquaculture provides almost half the world's seafood, filling a void created by the depletion of wild fish stocks.
Aquaculture continues to grow more rapidly than all other animal food-producing sectors, with a global average annual growth rate of 8,8 percent per year since 1970, compared with only 1,2 percent for capture fisheries and 2,8 percent for terrestrial farmed meat production systems.
Aquaculture production in 2004 was reported to be 45,5 million tonnes with a value of US$63,3 billion or, if aquatic plants are included, 59,4 million tonnes with a value of US$70,3 billion.
All regions showed increases in production from 2002 to 2004, led by the Near East and North Africa region and Latin America and the Caribbean, with about 14 and 10 percent average annual growth, respectively.
Over the past 10 to 15 years, the proportion of overexploited and depleted stocks has remained unchanged, after showing a marked increase during the 1970s and 1980s. The remaining stocks were overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion and thus were yielding less than their maximum potential owing to excess fishing pressure.
This confirms earlier observations that the maximum wild captures fishery potential from the world's oceans have probably been reached. It also reinforces the calls for more cautious and effective fisheries management to rebuild depleted stocks and prevent the decline of those being exploited at or close to their maximum potential.
The sub-Saharan Africa region continues to be a minor player in aquaculture despite its natural potential. Nigeria leads in the region, with reported production of 44 000 tonnes of catfish, tilapia and other freshwater fishes. There are some encouraging signs in the continent: black tiger shrimp in Madagascar and Eucheuma seaweed in the United Republic of Tanzania are thriving and production of niche species such as abalone in South Africa is increasing.
Fin fish farming
The I&J fin fish hatchery would be the first in South Africa. Given the context of line fish in South Africa with at least 15 species having collapsed (including white steenbras; galjoen; silver cob; red steenbras; red stumpnose; dusky cob and geelbek), alternatives such as line fish farming become important to consider. With approximately 150 different line fish species, only two species are currently regarded as optimally exploited, yellow tail and snoek. The other species are considered to fall between collapsed, threatened and over exploited.
Developing line fish farming, such as the Fin Fish initiative, could augment the availability of line fish and possibly assist with rebuilding of wild stocks.
It is estimated that the fin fish farm will produce about 1 000 tons within the first year valued at R30 per kilogram. In addition approximate 100 jobs are secured. The first fin fish farm is further expected to supply small medium micro enterprises (SMMEs) with fish.
Abalone farming is a key aspect of South Africa's aquaculture development and priorities. I&J have been involved in abalone farming since 1991. It has invested more than R20 million in this activity, which includes a farm in the Western Cape as well as a joint venture, entered into in 2004, with a Chilean company. These investments are part of a thriving industry.
Abalone farming was initiated in South Africa in the early 1990s, and by 1996, a number of small operators had entered the industry. The first 10 tons were produced in 1997, and by 2003, production had increased to 515 tons. By last year (2006) 900 tons were produced. At present, there are 15 commercial farms in operation. However, the industry continues to grow, and during the 2006 period, our department issued 23 permits to culture the species. While most of the farms are located in the Western Cape, most notably along the South coast between Hermanus and Danger Point, and around Saldanha Bay / St Helena Bay area on the West coast; farms are also located as far North as Port Nolloth in the Northern Cape, and as far east as Haga-Haga in the Eastern Cape.
Abalone farming has the highest economic value when compared to all other farmed products and is the highest employer within the marine aquaculture sector. The sector employs more than 800 people which constitute more than 80 percent of total marine aquaculture employment. During 2006 the economic value of abalone was just above R141 million, whilst the total value of the sector was around R150 million.
This sector continues to grow whilst the wild abalone stocks continue to diminish for example the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for abalone during 2006 was 223 tons and has been reduced to 125 tons for 2007. Therefore farmed abalone could assist to compensate for jobs that are lost in the wild abalone fishery. There is also a high demand especially from the Far East countries that could be met by increasing the production of farmed abalone.
Currently, focus is also placed on Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) within the sector.
In our country, we have to take into account the issues of job creation and sustainable livelihoods. We have set ourselves an ambitious target in Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA) of halving unemployment and poverty by 2014 and we have to look at every possible means of achieving this target. Once more, the global data is encouraging.
Millions of people around the world depend on fisheries and aquaculture, directly or indirectly, for their livelihoods. Over the past thirty years, the number of fishers and aqua-culturists has grown faster than the world's population, and employment in the fisheries sector has grown faster than employment in traditional agriculture.
This provides a powerful incentive for our country to develop aquaculture on a larger scale. Another huge motivating factor is nutrition. Fish is highly nutritious and is a valuable supplement to diets otherwise lacking in vitamins and minerals.
Global per capita fish consumption has increased over the past forty years. However, sub-Saharan Africa has lagged behind that of the rest of the world, decreasing from a high of 9,9 kilogram per capita in 1982 to the most recent estimate of 7,6 kilogram in 2003. The region can ill afford to see this trend to continue or worsen. However, aquaculture can also help here as has been noted by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). In 2005, the NEPAD "Fish for All Summit" raised international awareness about the potential of aquaculture in the continent.
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism marine aquaculture policy
Taking into account the global picture, as well as our local needs, our department is in the process of developing a marine aquaculture policy for South Africa that will be implemented through a national sector development plan. The policy aims to create an enabling environment that includes, amongst others, improved communication and information, incentives for industry development and better intergovernmental co-ordination.
The policy also looks at achieving transformation and broadening participation in the industry through SMME initiatives and facilitating finance and skills development. Our policies are also intended to improve the management and control of environmental impacts and increase the resource base to a more diverse suite of species.
We are committed to partnering with a diverse set of stakeholders to ensure that there is a well co-ordinated drive to achieve the goals set out in the plan.
I am confident that this will be the first step on a long and prosperous path towards a successful sustainable aquaculture industry.
Cell: 083 778 9923
Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
10 April 2007
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