Since the launch of the oceans economy initiative, under Operation Phakisa, in July 2014, government has invested around R17-billion in the initiative’s various workstreams, including marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture, and marine protection services and ocean governance.
This has created 4 903 jobs to date, according to Department of Environmental Affairs ocean conservation strategist Gcobani Popose.
At the first South Africa–Norway Science Week, which got under way in Pretoria on Monday, Popose highlighted that the industry was set for further growth, with Transnet National Ports Authority committing R7-billion in investment opportunities for new and existing port infrastructure.
In addition, Popose noted that, with an exclusive 1.5-million-square-kilometre economic zone, the aquaculture sector held significant potential and had already exceeded expectations.
Thirty-two projects in aquaculture have been initiated over the last two years, with ten projects, valued at R338-million, in the production phase. When Operation Phakisa was first introduced, only 24 projects had been identified for implementation.
Government has invested around R106-million in this sector, creating 521 jobs.
Meanwhile, aquaculture contributes almost half of global fish supply, but it contributes less than 1% of South Africa’s fish supply.
With this in mind, Popose pointed out that the new Aquaculture Bill, which aims to promote the development of an equitable, diverse, viable and competitive sector, was currently under review by State law advisers.
Drafted in August 2015, the law further seeks to create an enabling regulatory environment within a framework of sustainable development. It also seeks to improve coordination in the regulation of the aquaculture sector; to promote the participation of historically disadvantaged individuals in the aquaculture sector; and to establish an aquaculture development fund.
The fund will see government consolidate about R500-million of its funds from five departments to assist the projects.