Dear All

The TAASA exco would like to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful festive season and successful 2018. Please find below a brief wrap up of developments during the year. There are important elements covered in the email and we encourage you to read it in its entirety.

New Farmers

During 2017 there has been a flurry of interest in the tilapia sector from a number of quarters. This has been driven by growing interest and awareness of the farming potential tilapia offers. The feedback we have received from new and potentially new entrants into the sector is that the existing tilapia farming community has willingly shared its knowledge with them and much appreciation has been expressed in this regard.

Aquaculture Development Enhancement Programme (ADEP)

For existing farmers with expansion plans, new entrants and potential investors in the sector it is important to note that the Aquaculture Development Enhancement Programme (ADEP) will no longer be accepting applications for grant funding after 31 March 2018. It seems the programme will be replaced by the Aquaculture Development Fund (ADF) as of 1 April 2018 – few details on how the new fund will operate are presently available and we hope to learn more in the near future.

World Aquaculture Society (WAS) – 2017 Conference Cape Town

It is probably fair to say that for many people attendance of the WAS conference represented the highlight of the year. It certainly proved to be illuminating in a number of respects. Among some of the bigger takeaways from the conference was the growing challenges related to maintaining healthy fish stock in aquaculture facilities across the globe; the need for sectors to self-regulate with respect to farming standards; the growing demand for aquaculture products and the fact that South Africa has a lot of work to do if it wants to be a prominent role player in freshwater aquaculture on the continent, let alone the world.

Alien and Invasive Species (AIS) Regulations

The past year has seen the establishment of a task team comprising industry stakeholders and government (provincial and national) representatives. The purpose of the task team is to agree on the areas and conditions under which permits for Nile tilapia will be issued in Mpumalanga and Limpopo province. As can be expected there are differences of opinion within the task team. However, the scientific assessment process which will be starting early in 2018 will be an important stepping stone towards resolving the issues that have hampered the issuing of permits in these provinces as there is agreement on the part of government to let the ‘science speak’ on the question of Nile tilapia invasion.

Please visit https://www.thetilapiasite.co.za/file_list.php to download the minutes of the last meeting.

Tilapia Disease Survey

In our interactions with potential buyers of locally produced tilapia it has become clear that the use of antibiotics and the impact of poor water sources is starting to affect the quality of tilapia produced in other parts of the world. Awareness of this issue is growing  amongst consumers and the disease survey being undertaken by Dr Taylor will aid in setting important disease management benchmarks for the sector – ultimately positively impacting on the quality of tilapia produced by local farmers. Thank you to all the farmers who have volunteered to be part of the survey.

Trading/Selling of live Nile Tilapia

With growing interest in tilapia farming it is more important than ever to ensure that we all follow the correct processes with respect to the sale of Nile tilapia. The live sale of Nile tilapia should only be made by existing permit holders to individuals who have been issued permits in terms of the AIS regulations.  Throughout the course of 2017 the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has repeatedly stated that they will be sharpening their enforcement efforts in the near future. The repercussions for selling Nile tilapia without the necessary permits can be severe for all parties involved.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for aquaculture development in South Africa.

The SEA process forms part of Operation Phakisa and is aimed at promoting and supporting the sustainable growth of the South African aquaculture industry. The intention is to completely overhaul the aquaculture environment in South Africa with a view to putting mechanisms in place to boost growth in the sector. The assessment has been progressing steadily during the past year. It is important to note that the work done by the CSIR and consultants in this space will result in frameworks and policies which will be presented as recommendations to DAFF and DEA. The perception created that SEA’s work will automatically lead to policy and regulations and that stakeholders will have no influence on this is incorrect – we urge you to use the opportunities to comment on developments.

Please visit https://www.thetilapiasite.co.za/file_list.php to download the draft Biodiversity Risk and Benefit Assessment for Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in South Africa. This document is open for comments and input should be emailed to Lizande Kellerman by 12 January 2018 at LKellerman@csir.co.za

Skills Development

Since inception TAASA has worked hard at championing skills development in the sector. One of the portfolios on exco is dedicated to this function and the perseverance shown over the last few years has resulted in greater awareness amongst government departments and training authorities with respect to the need for credible and standardised training programmes. TAASA was the sole (pardon the pun) representative at the AgriSETA budget workshops earlier this year. We provided input with respect to the training needs for our sector and are confident that the necessary budget allocations will be provided for in the new financial year.

End.