You are also encouraged to view the “Fisheries and Ocean Economy” and “Aquaponics” pages.

The way human beings live is placing great strain on the planet with various scenarios indicating that we will require three planets in the near future to remain on our present trajectory (NASA, 2014).  The oceans and marine fish resources have not escaped. Some fish-stock has become extinct and others severely depleted (WWF, 2011). How to ensure food security, livelihoods while ensuring that there life continues to exist in our oceans?

Fishing quotas have been one response. Sustainability initiatives like the blue eco-label and the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI) is a second. The third is to cultivate fish for food. This is called aquaculture.

The primary types (or branches) of aquaculture are marine aquaculture (saltwater / coastal), freshwater aquaculture (fresh water / inland) and brackish water aquaculture.

  • Marine aquaculture is a branch of aquaculture involving the farming of marine plants and animals which is conducted in the open ocean, in enclosed sections of the ocean, or in tanks, ponds or raceways which are filled with seawater.
  • Freshwater aquaculture is a branch of aquaculture involving the farming of freshwater plants and animals which is conducted primarily in ponds, open water cages or tanks.
  • Brackish water aquaculture is a branch of aquaculture involving the farming of fish and crustacea found in the saline waters of creeks, lagoons and estuaries.

Aquaculture is probably the fastest growing food sector in the world (FAO, 2017). It has job creation and export potential. For several reasons South Africa (and Africa – see next heading) has been slow on the uptake. Government measures like Operation Phakisa and the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti)’s Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme (ADEP) incentive indicate, we trust, that a change is in sight.

Source: Notes on the primary types of aquaculture come from the Legal Guide For The Aquaculture Sector In South Africa (see "Websites & publications" heading)

The omega oils in fish is known to play a vital role in the prevention of cardio diseases through lower cholesterol levels. It can also, as a high source of protein, assist in the country’s serious obesity problems by limiting weight gain and even decreasing, causing weight loss as part of low kilojoule diet.


Source: Agricultural Action Policy Plan (APAP), 2015: 17

International business environment

Farmed fish overtook captured fish as food for human consumption in 2014 for the first time.  In 2016, world aquaculture production reached 171 million tonnes compared to 3 million tonnes of fish in the 1970s (FAO, 2018). Find The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (FAO, 2018) at

The Aquaculture Market size was valued at $169 billion in 2015, and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 5.3% to reach $242 billion by 2022 (Allied Market Research, 2016). Adroit Market Research predicts a value of up to USD 274.8 billion by 2025 (Adroit, 2019).


Further reference:


South Africa: imports and exports

  • The annual A Profile Of The South African Aquaculture Market Value Chain (see “Websites & publications” heading) covers imports and exports.
  • The Agricultural Action Policy Plan (APAP) pointed to the international demand for fish as being a market into which South Africa could tap (APAP 2015:17).

Local business environment

The annual A Profile Of The South African Aquaculture Market Value Chain (see the “Websites & publications” heading) covers aquaculture projects happening nationally. The Aquaculture Competitiveness Improvement Programme (ACIP) lists the challenges facing aquaculture in the country and sets out measures to address these. The ACIP is part of the Agricultural Action Policy Plan (APAP).

  • Aquaculture in South Africa consists mainly of freshwater species such as African catfish (Clarias gariepinus), Carp (Cyprinus carpio), Goldfish (Carrasius auratus and other spp.), Ornamental fish (various ornamental species), Rainbow and brown trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss and Salmo trutta), Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), Chinese grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), Koi carp (Cyprinus carpio), Marron (Cherax tenuimanus), Mozambique and other tilapia species (Oreochromis spp), Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), Water hawthorn (Plantae aquaticae); and marine species such as abalone (Haliotis midae), various marine finfish under investigation (including cob (Argyrosomus spp.)), Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovinvialis), Pacific cupped oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and Seaweed species (Gracilaria spp.)
  • The Western Cape is the dominant province for marine aquaculture (67% in 2014) with the Eastern Cape at 20% (DAFF, 2015).
  • Freshwater species are generally farmed in recirculating systems, earth ponds, cages or raceways whereas marine fish are farmed in onshore recirculating systems or cages in sheltered bays. The marine molluscs are farmed on rafts or longlines, and abalone are produced in tanks through which marine water is pumped continuously. The technology and services are well establish for species such as ornamental fish, tilapia, trout, crocodiles, catfish, abalone, prawns, oysters and mussels, and are being refined for species such as kob, yellowtail and seaweed.
  • The most important areas for the production of warm water species (including catfish, tilapia, carp and ornamental fish) are the Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga Lowveld and northern KwaZulu-Natal. Trout are farmed along the high mountains in Lydenburg area, KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg and the Western Cape.
  • Trout and abalone provide niche markets with high-value products.
  • South African processors currently import trout, add value to the fish and then export them again. In addition to the market with processors, trout also appeals to the tourism market, specifically the angling sector.
  • Abalone is a highly prized and priced cuisine in south eastern Asia, and it is hoped that inroads will be made into the EU. It is a success story in aquaculture, but the international wild population has been radically reduced through poaching.
  • The global trend towards the farming of marine fish species has also become a major new focus in South African aquaculture. For more on this, visit, website of the Marine Finfish Farmer’s Association of South Africa.

Source: A Profile Of The South African Aquaculture Market Value Chain 2015; Sishuba, S. 2017. “Aquaculture industry expected to expand”. Farmer’s Weekly, January 13.

The Agricultural Action Policy Plan (APAP) points out that aquaculture is such a successful enterprise in the East because of the vast population there and fish being a staple in many countries. In South Africa, by contrast, maize and chicken are in high demand, fish being at the bottom end of the consumption chain (APAP, 2015). The APAP nonetheless still sees “a two-pronged opportunity in the marketplace”, regardless of the fact that consumption is projected to grow at a substantially lower rate than the rest of the world:


  1. There is huge demand for fish products internationally which South Africa could tap into
  2. Locally, a concerted information drive could help grow demand by informing the public of “the huge health benefits that can be derived from eating more fish”.
Source: Agricultural Action Policy Plan (APAP), 2015: 17

For the newcomer


Several articles are available to the prospective fish farmer, mainly with headings like the following:


1. Market

Do you understand the market you plan to supply?


2. Species Choice, Climate & Infrastructure

The species selection will in turn drive the choice of infrastructure that is most appropriate for your climate, market requirements and skill of the management.


3. Scale of Operation & Expansion Rate

The market information you obtained will guide you in terms of an appropriate scale on which to start the business and according to which expansion should occur. Essentially there are two options:

  • start big and bring in skilled management
  • start small, learn from mistakes and grow with successes. (The second option is strongly recommended for new comers to the industry).


4. Technical Skills

Knowing the species and infrastructure types you will be using will guide you towards the skill sets you require.


5. Feed Supplier

Feed makes up more than 50% of operating costs. Don’t skimp on costs – quality is important!


6. Site Selection

Consider not only the water supply, climate and other onsite considerations, but also the related matters such as selective advantages offered by different sites in terms of labour source, buildings available, gravity fed vs pumped water supply, road quality and distances, electrical supply and telecommunications.


7. Capital Requirement

Having completed all the steps above you will have a clear idea of how much capital you require for construction, for cash flow through the lowest point in the budget and a healthy reserve for just in case. Insufficient capital can quickly starve the life out of a business, even a very profitable business!


8. Legislation

The final step in the planning, or the first in the execution, is to appoint an environmental consultant to obtain the permits for you. A good service will be expensive but an essential step in the process. Going through the steps above carefully and with attention to detail will give you the best possible chance of succeeding in the very exciting industry.


Other articles include:

National strategy and Government contacts

The Aquaculture Development Bill was introduced to parliament in June 2018. Find “Aquaculture Policy, Guidelines and Legislation” on the Sustainable Aquaculture Management Directorate’s web pages at


  • Operation Phakisa (see seeks to contribute about R177 billion to the economy by 2030 (compared to R54billion in 2010) and create up to one million jobs by 2030. The ocean economy project linked to Operation Phakisa focuses on priority potential growth areas such as marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture as well as marine protection services and ocean governance. These are deemed to have a significant GDP growth and job creation potential.
  • Of its 36 aquaculture projects, 26 were operational and were producing aquatic animals in the second half of 2017. Since 2014, these 26 farms had created 1 806 jobs, while the projects had produced 3 500 tons.
  • The Saldanha Bay aquaculture development zone has the potential to unlock an additional of 780 to 2 500 direct jobs, over R400m investments, and over R800m turnover per annum. Direct jobs could contribute up to 25% to current unemployment figures, and further upstream and downstream jobs would increase this.


In 2012, the then Departments of Trade and Industry, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries launched the aquaculture development and enhancement programme (ADEP). Find information, guidelines and forms at ADEP offers a reimbursable cost-sharing grant of up to R40-million for machinery and equipment, bulk infrastructure, commercial vehicles and work boats and for activities that could boost competition in the industry.

Aquaculture has also featured, along with small-scale fisheries, in the Government’s IPAPs (Industrial Policy Action Plans) as an area in which jobs could be created, and in the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) programme of the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordination Committee. Aquaculture incubation schemes were included in Sip 11. The Aquaculture Competitiveness Improvement Programme (ACIP) covers the challenges facing aquaculture in the country and sets out measures to address these. The ACIP is part of the Agricultural Action Policy Plan (APAP).


Role players

  • The Aquaculture Value Chain Round Table (AVCRT) is a formalised industry-government partnership between the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and Aquaculture Association of Southern Africa (AASA).
  • Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
  • Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD)  Take the “Branches” and “Fisheries Management” options on the website. Information about and details of the Directorate: Aquaculture Technical Services (D: ATS) and the Directorate: Sustainable Aquaculture Management (D: SAM) are available there.
  • Directorate Marketing Tel: 012 319 8455 Find the annual Aquaculture Market Value Chain Profile on the directorate’s website
  • Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation
  • South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Find SANS 631:2009, the South African National Standard for crocodile farmers on the website.
  • Provincial Departments of Agriculture do aquaculture research and training. In the Western Cape contact Ferdie Endemann at ferdiee [at] In KwaZulu-Natal, Mbongeni Khanyile at mbongeni.khanyile [at]

The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) offers opportunities in the agro-processing and aqua farming industries. For investors who wish to take advantage of opportunities in the agriculture sector, please contact Dr Keith du Plessis at info [at] or by calling 041 403 0400 / 086 102 6342.

Associations involved

The Aquaculture Association of South Africa (AASA) Tel: 012 803 5208 The objectives of the association are “to contribute towards the development of aquaculture in Southern Africa through effective representation and dissemination of information”. The website provides a background to aquaculture, gives details on new developments – well worth a visit for interested parties.

  • Fish South Africa is an umbrella body that includes among its members Premier Fishing, I&J, and Ocean Fishing. See the “Fisheries and the ocean economy”  page. Associations like the Marine Finfish Farmers Association of South Africa are listed in that chapter.
  • Ornamental Fish Producers Tel: 046 622 3690 lesley [at]
  • South African Pet Traders Association
  • Abalone Farmers Association of Southern Africa (AFASA) Tel: 021 785 1477 / 028 313 1055
  • Catfish South Africa Ingo Beckert – 082 569 8906 Ingobeckert [at]
  • South African Farmed Abalone Export Council
  • South African Koi Traders Society
  • Tilapia Association of South Africa (TAASA) Tel: 021 885 2122 / 082 575 9781
  • Western Cape Tilapia Growers Association Tel: 021 461 0260 Gthomas [at]
  • Western Cape Trout Association Tel: 023 349 1133 / 021 372 1100
  • Mpumalanga Trout Forum Tel: 013 235 1248 Renier van der Merwe – lunsklip [at]
  • Marine Finfish Farmer’s Association of South Africa (MFFASA) Tel: 043 702 8209
  • Mussel and Oyster Forum Tel: 022 714 2107 Bbmussel [at]

The Crocodile Farmers Association who, with the Farm Animal Unit of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA), formulated a code of practice through the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). This code lays down minimum standards within the industry and applies to all parties who keep or breed crocodiles in captivity, including tourist parks. Visit

Training and research

  • AgriSETA Tel: 012 301 5600 Because of the emphasis being given to aquaculture by the government, fisheries and aquaculture are included as a priority in AgriSETA training.
  • ARC-Animal Production (Irene) Tel: 012 672 9111/ 316 ThaelaMJ [at] and An Aquaculture management course along with rural aquaculture projects are run.
  • Aquaculture Innovations Tel: 046 622 3690 Aquaculture Innovations is a Service Provider to the Aquaculture Industry throughout Southern Africa, providing consulting services as well as theoretical and practical training in aquaculture. This includes SETA accredited Aquaculture Training Courses for Catfish and Tilapia farmer training. Clients include extension officers throughout SADC, entrepreneurs, companies and individuals. The theoretical training is offered at various locations around the region, whereas the practical training is either done on the client’s site or at the Aquaculture Academy in Grahamstown. Distance learning is made possible through DVDs sold via their online store.
  • The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) has promoted several aquaculture projects over the years. Visit
  • Find DALRRD Marine Aquaculture Research Personnel details at
  • David Fincham Aquaculture Tel: 011 431 1237 David Fincham Aquaculture offers workshops and training to new and existing clients, either at its farm in Muldersdrift or at your premises.
  • KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) Makhathini Research Station Tel: 035 572 5303 Find the research report “Farming with fish”, which covers basic requirements for aquaculture, on the website.
  • Read about the ‘Marine Finfish Farmers Association of South Africa (MFFASA) – DST-Sector Innovation Fund (SIF)’ programme or ‘MASSIF’ Programme at
  • OABS Deveopment did a study into the development of pet food products from catfish waste. See
  • PCI Agricultural Services Tel: 072 011 0687
  • Rhodes University Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science (DIFS) Tel: 046 603 8415/6 difs [at]
  • Rivendell Hatchery Nicholas James – 082 575 9781
  • The South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) Tel: 046 603 5800 SAIAB is a Research Facility of the National Research Foundation (NRF)
  • Skills for Africa Tel: 012 379 4920
  • Stellenbosch University Division of Aquaculture Tel: 021 808 9146 / 5839 Since 2001 the university has presented an Aquaculture Education Programme in Distance Education format. All lectures are available on DVD or video cassette. Call 021 808 9146 to find out more. Education options are (i) Short courses and workshops (ii) An Aquaculture Certificate Course (iii) Aquaculture Graduate Programme (iv) Aquaculture Diploma Course (v) Aquaculture Post Graduate Programmes. The University was involved with a fish farmers’ co-operative whereby fish are cultivated in floating cages made up of a wooden platform and steel supports covered with netting. This device is then anchored in the deepest part of the dam where the water is the cleanest. The University also has a programme whereby staff on farms are assisted to establish cage culture in irrigation dams as a second source of income. Contact Danie Brink in this regard: db [at]
  • In order to address the scarce aquatic veterinarian skills and services available in SA, the then DAFF and Stirling University signed an agreement for training of aquatic veterinarians and aquaculture specialists. Visit
  • Tompi Seleka Agricultural College runs a course which covers the practical and theoretical methods of aquaculture. Call 013 264 5300.
  • University of the Free State (i) Department of Zoology & Entomology Prof Jo van As Tel: 051 401 2427 vanasjg [at] (ii) Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology Division of Food Science Robert R Bragg (Professor) Tel: 051 401 2692 / 3261
  • University of Limpopo Aquaculture Research Unit Tel: 015 268 2833 An Aquaculture Research Unit and an Experimental Farm are among the facilities offered by the School.
  • Urban-Econ did research into the development of a commercial tilapia industry. See
  • Water Research Commission Tel: 012 761 9300 Find documents like “Farming with fish – Community finds new hope through aquaculture project” and “Developing sustainable inland fisheries” on the website.

Other Universities, which have project-based involvement in aquaculture include the Cape Peninsular University of Technology (CPUT), University of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Most of these contact details can be found on the “Agricultural education and training” page.

Companies and other role players

  • Abagold (Pty) Ltd Abalone producers
  • Advance Africa Develop sustainable aquaculture projects in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Alnet (Pty) Ltd Fish farming nets and other aquaculture equipment
  • Amatola Fly Fishing The first community owned and managed recreational fishery in South Africa.
  • Applied UV cc UV water disinfection (a non-chemical method). It is environmentally-friendly and does not change the water in any way
  • Aquaculture Innovations Aquaculture Innovations serve as consultants, conducting feasibility studies, business planning, site selection, system designs, production audits, training and offering a mentorship program whereby existing and new entrants into the industry are supported.
  • Aquaculture Insight Aquaculture consultants
  • AquaEco Aquaculture and environmental services: planning, technical guidance, impact assessments, statutory approvals and … sustainability
  • Aquaponics Africa Aquaponics and aquaculture systems and services
  • Aqunion Abalone farming business
  • Astore Aquaculture pipes and fittings
  • Bessemer Products include those for fish farming
  • Biomin Animal Nutrition Feed for fish and shrimp
  • Blue Ocean Mussels Mussel farm and processing factory
  • Catfish Supreme (Pty) Limited A catfish hatchery with a capacity to produce ±8 000 000 fingerlings per year.
  • Croc City Crocodile Farm
  • CSIR Enterprise Creation for Development Feasibility studies, business planning, due diligence, etc. as well as implementation and establishment of businesses. Projects include mussel farming.
  • David Fincham Aquaculture FarminaBox systems offer “the lowest cost of entry, lowest running costs and lowest technical requirements”
  • De Rust Grass Carp De Rust is “the leading authority on Grass Carp in Southern Africa”. These (sterilized) exotic species are can be used for, amongst other things, the control of aquatic weeds in dams and waterways.
  • Deep Blue Aquatic Systems Design, manufacture & installation of aquaculture systems.
  • Dewdale Trout Fishery Tel: 021 876 2755
  • Dicla Farm and Seeds The Dicla Eco Tilapia System is a turnkey project offered with design, supply, and installation, and training assistance
  • Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) Aquaculture is one of the sectors targeted to increase foreign and local direct investment in the Eastern Cape.
  • Eastern Cape Tilapia Specialises in the supply of whole and filleted Tilapia to the South African market.
  • Efficient Microbes EM Pro-Aqua, an alternative strategy to antimicrobial compounds for disease prevention and control in aquaculture.
  • Elandskloof Trout Farm A farm near Dullstroom, Mpumalanga
  • Florida Bass Tel: 058 913 2924 Cell: 082 494 2882 Fishing hatchery
  • Gariep Nature Reserve The reserve includes a fishing hatchery for Largemouth and Smallmouth Yellowfish
  • Giants Cup Hatchery™ Giants Cup Hatchery specialises in the production of live angling trout. It supplies angling fish throughout KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape Southern Drakensberg.
  • Hartbeespoort Fisheries Leading breeders of indigenous fish species including Mozambique Tilapia, Red Breast Tilapia, Dwarf Tilapia, Banded Tilapia, Barb Species, Large Mouth Bass, Yellow Fish, Catfish, Mosquito Fish Etc.
  • HIK Abalone Abalone farming
  • Irvin & Johnson I&J’s Danger Point Abalone Farm is one of the largest aquaculture installations in South Africa.
  • Izintaba Crocodile farm
  • King Koi Farm Tel: 011 979 3978 Fish offered that are imported from Taiwan and Japan, as well as locally bred varieties
  • La pieus Aqua Aquaculture and Aquaponics Farm
  • Le Croc Farm and tannery
  • Lunsklip Fisheries Live and processed trout for the South African markets and disease free certified trout ova for the international market.
  • Marel Fish processing equipment and systems
  • Marifeed Feed for trout and abalone
  • Marine Growers Abalone farm. Part of Premier Fishing
  • New Generation Emerging Farmers Pty (Ltd) Tel: 083 330 0999 Trailers, poultry houses, greenhouses, aquaculture – products and services
  • Ozonetek Tel: 021 593 0486 “sterilisation the chemical-free way”
  • Path Plastics Co (Pty) Ltd Products include a range of fish bins, pallets, insulated bulk bins, containers etc.
  • Peixe Bela Vista Tilapia producers and suppliers
  • Rainbow Tarps & Linings Tel: 072 562 2658 reservoirs /breeding tanks
  • Ratho Farms Crocodile farm
  • Repcillin CITES licensed crocodile oil
  • Rhino Water Water storage and water systems
  • Riverbend Crocodile Farm Crocodile farm
  • Sannitree International Bacteria to keep aquaculture ponds and fish tanks clean.
  • TerraSan Limited A number of aquaculture, mariculture and fishing operations are carried out
  • Thaba Kwena Crocodile Farm Tel: 014 736 5059 / 082 576 9540 Crocodile farm
  • The Fish Farm A patented micro fish farm for an inner city environment
  • Three Streams A family operation takes quality Rainbow Trout from the hatchery phase through to the Smokehouse.
  • Umkhonto Development Solutions Help with accessing the different financial incentives from government for Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme (ADEP)
  • Viking Aquaculture Abalone farming. Other products include mussels, finfish, oysters and tuna.

Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier on this page.


Some articles

Read the many aquaculture articles on the Farmer’s Weekly website. Find “Aquaculture” under the sectors option at This includes “Which fish should be farmed in SA, and where?”, “A word of warning for start-up producers” and “Fish production: simplicity or sophistication?



See also the earlier “International business environment” heading.

The State of the World’s Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is the first-ever global report of its kind. It is based on information provided by 92 countries, representing around 96% of global aquaculture production. Find it at

Some articles …

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