The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, has welcomed the green light received on the proposed sea-based Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ) in Saldanha Bay, Western Cape, saying this enhances sustainable aquaculture expansion in the bay.

Minister Zokwana said this would further contribute towards the realisation of the aquaculture aspirations of Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy in terms of job creation, increased primary production, increased gross domestic product contribution and inclusive growth of the sector.

¡§Aquaculture development can significantly contribute towards alleviating poverty, empowering local communities and enhancing food security. The Saldanha ADZ has the potential to meet the Operation Phakisa production target, and increase local employment in the area by unlocking up to 2 500 permanent direct jobs, which can contribute up to 25% towards current local unemployment figures.

¡§It has the potential to increase investment into the area by over R400 million and the estimated direct revenue at full production could result to over R800 million per annum. In addition, increased local production can meaningfully assist with the substitution of seafood imports and therefore realise social and economic impacts on a municipal, regional and national level,¡¨ Minister Zokwana said.

Aquaculture has been practised in Saldanha Bay since the 1980s and is considered as one of the primary locations for the culture of key commercial cold water species, including oysters, mussels and salmon.

Previous studies indicate that one of the fundamental challenges in realising the potential of aquaculture in Saldanha Bay was the lack of an enabling regulatory environment.

The Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy programme provides the platform to create this environment through increasing access to land and water space, as well as improving access to markets and funding.

As a result, there is significant interest from industry to expand current operations and to start new projects in the area.

To date, 15 of the 35 registered Operation Phakisa aquaculture projects are located in Saldanha Bay, with the majority of them being small, medium and micro enterprises in the oyster and mussel subsector.