If you don’t know what aquaculture is, you’re not alone: a 2009 survey found that a remarkable 85% of South Africans had never even heard the term, and most are still unaware of its importance. The situation hasn’t improved much, more people have heard of it but few actually know what it is.
Aquaculture is the aquatic equivalent of agriculture. It involves essentially “growing” animals and plants that live in lakes, rivers or the sea, mostly for human consumption. It has been one of the world’s fastest growing industries in recent decades.
In fact, today, you’re more likely to be eating “farmed” fish than fish from the wild. But that is not true in South Africa, yet. In 2014 the supply of fish for human consumption from aquaculture exceeded that from wild-caught fisheries for the first time. This trend is continuing, as the amount of fish which can be supplied by the traditional fishing industry has reached a plateau, and aquaculture continues to expand at a rapid rate. It’s increasing in those countries with a long tradition of aquaculture, but also in regions where it hasn’t been done before.