The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has announced plans to develop a R2bn aqua-farming facility on 300 hectares of land at the Coega industrial development zone outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.This follows the completion of a feasibility study indicating that local conditions were well suited for the commercial cultivation of marine animals and plants, including abalone, finfish and seaweed, Engineering News reported.
"The CDC aims to dedicate 80 hectares to abalone farming by 2020, creating about 2,080 permanent jobs," CDC agroprocessing project manager Dr Keith du Plessis told Engineering News on Monday. "South Africa is widely known to have of the best abalone and the best product in the world, all of which is exported to the Far East."
"Finfish farming on a further 120 hectares of the industrial development zone (IDZ) had also been proposed," Du Plessis said."Another species that could potentially be farmed is seaweed, which is complementary to abalone farming and can be used for abalone feed and various pharmaceutical uses."
He said the CDC was now advancing the relevant environmental impact assessments. Last month, the government unveiled a plan to unlock the economic potential of South Africa's oceans, as the first activation of a new initiative, dubbed Operation Phakisa, that seeks to fast-track the delivery of priorities outlined in the country's National Development Plan (NDP.)
President Jacob Zuma, speaking at the launch of a "blue economy" working group, said South Africa's oceans had the potential to contribute up to R177bn to the country's gross domestic product (GDP,) while creating up to 1 million new jobs, by 2033 - compared to R54bn generated, and 316,000 jobs created, in 2010. Aquaculture is one of four focus areas that the group - including representatives from the government, business, labour, civil society and academia - is currently looking at as it seeks to deliver action plans for presentation to Cabinet.