South Africa is no longer a spectator country in the business of the ocean and fisheries economy, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana said on Tuesday.
“I am proud about the strides we have made as government within the fisheries sector. The path we have started will put us on a higher plane in creating more opportunities for our people,” said the Minister when he briefed media on the strides South Africa has made in the ocean economy, especially in fisheries.
Fisheries management remains a complex sector given the challenges of the need to provide fair access to all in the ever shrinking resource, while having to balance the conservation of such stocks for future generations.
“In the world of tuna management, South Africa has quickly emerged as a leading light and a role model looked up to by many developing nations that are participating in these RFMOs [Regional Fisheries Management Organisations].
“South Africa has not only improved and achieved a clean slate in terms of their compliance with adopted conservation management measures and reporting requirements, but also makes a significant contribution to the scientific investigations and management of tuna and other large pelagic species,” he said.
No less than 20 papers and presentations were prepared and delivered by South African fisheries scientists this year, an unprecedented contribution which was specifically acknowledged during the meeting of the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics and International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna.
Zokwana said departmental scientist, Dr Henning Winker, has developed a stock assessment tool – originally developed for assessments of the South African line fishery – which is now being launched in Spain.
“South Africa is gaining influence and starts to increase pressure on countries that fish unsustainably. South Africa’s strategy – improvement of its own allocation were possible with concurrent recovery of the stocks – was successful and our fishery will be able to reap the benefits of the increasing number of fishes in our waters in the years to come,” said Zokwana.
Unlike in the inshore fisheries, which are severely oversubscribed in South Africa, the domestic tuna quotas remain largely underutilised. Also, large parts of the stocks of Southern Bluefin, Bigeye and Yellowfin tuna are fished by distant water fishing nations.
“The value of the fish right on South Africa’s ‘stoep’ is close to a Billion Rand and South Africa, with its excellent infrastructure, is well placed to net increased benefits from this resource to alleviate the pressure on its nearshore resources.
“The net has been cast, now it is time to start the long haul,” said Zokwana.
The Minister said the department is also looking at establishing multispecies hatcheries in the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape that will support community based aquaculture farms, stocks enhancement and skills development.
To promote transformation of the sector and to ensure support for small scale and rural aquaculture enterprises, Zokwana said that the department is developing a small scale aquaculture model and transformation strategy.
“To create an enabling environment, DAFF is implementing Aquaculture Development Zones (ADZs). These are areas earmarked for aquaculture value chain activities with all relevant authorisations in place and relevant basic infrastructure in order to reduce the cost of doing business,” the Minister said.
All the authorisations were received for Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape as well as Qolora and Coega in the Eastern Cape ADZs.
The environmental impact assessments for the Amatikulu in KwaZulu-Natal and Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape ADZ’s are still underway. The department in partnership with provincial departments are piloting aquaculture in the Van der Kloof Dam in the Northern Cape, Nandoni Dam in Limpopo, Disaneng in the North West and Richard’s Bay in KwaZulu-Natal.
He said he was proud that government has started to introduce small scale fisheries in coastal provinces which will see massive jobs creation while at the same time building new economic players within the fisheries sector.
“We will continue to drive transformation and diversification within the sector bringing those who were previously disadvantaged as critical players.”
The number of Operation Phakisa projects has increased from 24 to 35. These projects have committed to increase production in the sector from 5000 to 25 000 tons, create over 3000 additional jobs and increase GDP contribution by over R 1 billion per annum.
South Africa’s fish consumption is comparably low at around 8kg per person per annum versus the global average of 19kg per person per annum. Therefore, in order to increase the consumption of fish locally, the department is to embark on a marketing and awareness programme nationally.