Lifeline for trout industry‘

2015-06-15 09:14

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THE trout industry is not only here to stay, but is expected to flourish after being threatened with heavy regulation.

The industry has been included into the country’s an aquaculture framework by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

The and now the fish, often associated with fly-fishing and leisure holidays in places like the Drakensberg, could also be the a recipient of government funding.

But industry insiders say have said until all is signed a sealed the exact future will rely on the details of an agreement to be struck between DAFF and the Department of Environmental Affairs.

The conservatively estimated R1,3 billion industry’s future appeared bleak two years ago when the DEA included trout in a 500-strong list of species deemed alien and invasive.

But since August last year negotiations have been taking place between DAFF and the DEA to come toreach a compromise. The Rainbow Trout has since been removed from the DEA’s list.

Rhodes University-based Professor Peter Britz in the ichthyology department and who assisted TroutSA, the industry’s governing body, said this was an example of co-operative governance.

“This took a lot of co-ordination to get TroutSA involved in the aquaculture programme of DAFF,” said Britz, who brought the parties together.

He said instead of trout being chased out of the water, the state has accepted it should remain, but only in areas where they already exist — known as Green Zones.

“This industry has a massive indirect value chain with the fishing of trout and downstream spend being more economically valuable than the actual fish. It also brings funds into local economies that are rural. There is room for growth in the green zones.”

He said by creating certainty, industry growthin the industry will follow and be aided by government grants.

According to The Department of Trade and Industry’s the Industrial Policy Action Plan has an incentive programme for aquaculture, known as the Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme.

The DTI saidThe grant is available to “primary, secondary and ancillary aquaculture activities in both marine and freshwater” and willould be provideddirectly to “approved applications for new, upgrading or expansion projects”.

Britz said a proposed aquaculture act was “still being discussed” but it could be brought before Parliament by the end of the year.

Currently the DEA and DAFF, along with the trout industry, are mapping the trout footprint in the

country believed to stretch from Limpopo to the Western Cape.

Pietermaritzburg-based Ilan Lax, who is a TroutSA executive member and chairperson of the Federation of Southern African Flyfishers (Fosaf), said the mapping process is likely to be detailed and a process of negotiation.

“Portions of the environmental lobby would still rather see trout being deemed invasive and alien so we will need to find a solution we can all agree to,” said Lax.

He said what they are looking for is a self-regulatory framework.

“The devil will be in the detail,” said Lax, a practising lawyer on what the final outcomes will be.

In a June report compiled by Britz, who works closely with DAFF, it showed aquaculture employed 8 000 people and was a “top-five fishery sub-sector” along with hake, Western Cape rock lobster, squid and small pelagics.

His report said 1 428 tons of trout was produced in 2011 and that South Africa imported about 2 500 tons.

“Multi-million rand trout resorts offering a multitude of activities and facilities exist throughout the country. This is just one of the areas where the indirect value exists,” said Lax

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