Fish farm initiative will increase food insecurity, says PE expert
The Algoa Bay sea-based fish farm project will increase food insecurity while ignoring alternative models that could bring great benefits, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa says.
Gary Koekemoer, chair of the society’s Algoa Bay branch, said the report done on behalf of Anchor Investment & Monitoring, which was commissioned by the fisheries department, made nonsense of the premise of food security that was driving the project.
According to the socioeconomic report compiled by a team that was headed up by Rhodes University fish scientist Prof Peter Britz, the main food for the caged fish would be pellets made from wild fish.
“It seems that a greater mass of wild fish have to be harvested than can be delivered as fin fish product,” it said.
“Fin fish farming projects do not offer a substitute to wild fish harvesting if the latter is required as a production input for the former.
“The project is more accurately described as one to convert low market value wild fish into high market value fin fish,” the report said.
Koekemoer said the society’s understanding was that the ratio of wild fish needed to make pellets to feed fin fish was as high as 10:1.“Who exactly would be the intended market of this aquaculture development zone, as ‘high value fin fish’ is unlikely to be affordable to the average South African citizen?”Koekemoer said Anchor’s consideration only of different configurations of sea-based fish farms or no project at all without any reference to other alternatives was also at odds with its premise of trying to improve food security.The Anchor report did not consider, for instance, the Zini Fish Farm model running in northern KwaZulu-Natal which used water drawn from the Mlalazi estuary and reared kob and grunter in earthen ponds, he said.“It doesn’t consider seeding of kob stocks and what impact the cleaning up of the Swartkops estuary, which kob use to reach maturity, would have on kob populations in Algoa Bay,” Koekemoer concluded.