African aquaculture grows 83% in 10 years

Aquaculture is the world’s fastest-growing food production sector, with a growth rate of 5,6%. Farmed fish topped beef farming globally for the first time in 2012, with 66 million tons of fish produced, compared with 63 million tons of beef.

- Advertisement -

This was according to Dr Anna Child of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), who spoke at the 11th conference of the Aquaculture Association of Southern Africa in Stellenbosch recently. The message at the conference was that aquaculture could contribute significantly towards feeding the world’s expected population of nine billion by 2050. Child added, however, that aquaculture production remained imbalanced. Although Asia produces more than 88,5% of the world’s aquaculture output, the trend among the Japanese population was to eat more beef than fish. This was underlined by a long-term decline in Japan’s fish production.

President of the World Aquaculture Society, Dr Kevan Main of the Mote Marine Laboratory in the USA, said global figures indicated that Asia’s aquaculture output was followed by America’s at 4,8% of world production, Europe’s at 4,3% and Africa’s at 2,2%. During the last decade, Africa’s production has grown by 83%. On average, South Africans consumed only 6,5kg fish, oyster, mussels and other aquaculture species per year, compared with the world average of 19kg per person.

Professor Tom Hecht of Rhodes University said that locally, aquaculture was viewed as high risk. “Business plans must be based on hard, cold numbers, top-class management, correct capitalisation of new ventures, and development of aquaculture enterprises on the right scale,” he said.

- Advertisement -

Child said that aquaculture involved creating an environmentally and economically sustainable industry. Moreover, marketing challenges required an integrated value-chain approach. About 40% of marine fish and 50% of the world’s total fish consumption is farmed.