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The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) will next year start rolling out a pilot fish farm project that will breed dusky kob, otherwise known as kabeljou, just offshore of Richards Bay.
Speaking at the Operation Phakisa dialogue session hosted by the uThungulu District Municipality in Richards Bay on Friday, DAFF aquaculture adviser Keagan Halley said the cage culture operation will be ‘one of its first kind’ near the port, with a price tag of R6.4-million.
‘It will contribute towards the development of a sustainable and competitive marine fin fish farming industry in SA with international recognition for its product quality, environmental awareness and technical innovation,’ said Halley.
Currently, the strategy is to reach 60 tons by next year and prepare the project for commercialization and secure investment.
Once approvals for expansion have been secured, production should be increased to 300 tons by 2017, and after establishing a hatchery in 2017 production should surge to 1 000 tons by 2018.
‘In a nutshell, Richards Bay has been identified as one of the initiatives that will drive the aquaculture sector in SA, which now employs 15 000 people in direct and full-time jobs.’
Also at the top of DAFF’s priority list for Zululand is the establishment of a massive R135-million dusky kob farm as well as a R30-million ornamental species farm within the 108ha Amatikulu aquaculture development zone.
Situated seven kilometers from the Amatikulu River, the land-based project, according to estimations, has the potential to create 6 000 direct and 10 000 indirect jobs.
The department has initiated the process of obtaining an Environmental Impact Assessment and has started engaging with potential investors, however access to funding to develop the necessary infrastructure has so far been a challenge.
DAFF has also stated that fish production is highly important as part of the Operation Phakisa plan, which is centered on unlocking the economic potential of SA’s oceans economy, since 50% of the 141 million tons of fish consumed globally derives from aquaculture.
‘We will require an additional 50 million tons of fish to feed the world population by 2030 and this additional fish production will come mainly from aquaculture.’