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South Africa Promotes Abalone Aquaculture Industry

21 March 2013

SOUTH AFRICA - Abalone farming is growing rapidly in the aquaculture sector as stocks are declining in the wild.

The South African government has been encouraging fish farming as part of the development of the country’s aquaculture sector, as well as to protect fish species from overfishing due to Asian market demand, reports BDLive.

Rudi van Niekerk, investment adviser at Agri-Vie, the sub-Saharan food and agribusiness private equity fund, told BDLive that investing in sustainable abalone projects is vital to saving endangered species and easing the pressure on global fish resources.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s spokeswoman, Palesa Mokomele, told the newspaper that abalone farms have created the majority of direct new jobs in the aquaculture sector — a total of 1,219 last year.

Ms Mokomele says the abalone industry contributed 55 per cent of total aquaculture production in 2011. In addition, its sales represented 94 per cent of the entire aquaculture sector.

Working with the Department of Trade and Industry, the fisheries unit of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry established the Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme — a funding incentive aimed at attracting new entrants into the fish-farming business to improve competitiveness in the sector.

According to the agriculture department, two new black businesses were recently granted rights for abalone farming. These farms have also been linked to the aquaculture development programme.

The fisheries sector includes wild-capture fisheries across commercial, recreational and small-scale fisheries as well as aquaculture, which is considered to be an underdeveloped sector.

Ms Mokomele says South African abalone species are rated among the best in export markets. As a result, abalone producers have developed their own niche markets in countries such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

The sector exported 1,036 tons in 2011, with a value of about R357m out of the total R379m fish exports by South Africa.

TheFishSite News Desk

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