Pretoria- Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, says government recognises the importance of aquaculture and the role it will play in sustaining production of food fish.
"The South African Government recognises the importance of aquaculture and the role it will play in sustaining production of food fish, as the natural fish resources become further challenged and wild stocks under pressure," she said.
Joemat-Pettersson was speaking at the sixth session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Fisheries sub-committee on aquaculture in Cape Town on Monday.
The Minister said adapting to the effects of climate change will be the hallmarks of Smart Aquaculture in the next decades.
"Using resources efficiently and adapting to the effects of climatic and other shocks will be the hallmarks of Smart Aquaculture in the coming decades.
"We are all aware that aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector in the world, and as it continues to grow, a decreasing percentage of food fish and other aquatic animals will be provided from the already heavily exploited natural resources," she said.
According to the Minister, the fast growth of aquaculture worldwide is a result of intensification of production methods, and the improvement of the efficiency of breeding and growing fish, lobsters, molluscs, and other highly-valued aquatic food species.
She said the aquaculture sector finds itself confronted with problems similar to those known from the intensive and growing agricultural sector.
"As is the case with terrestrial farming, intensification of animal production and specifically fish farming leads to the emergence of different challenges that we have to confront and overcome.
"It is at platforms like these that such challenges are discussed and solutions shared and adopted by different stakeholders, be it best management practices, new technologies and/or general governance issues," she said.
Joemat-Pettersson also used the platform to urge delegates that as discussions continue around sustainable development and management of aquaculture in developed countries, the plight of the developing world should be considered.
"The FAO should ensure that these regions are prioritised and assisted accordingly, so that they are also in a position to achieve their own developmental goals and more so the Millennium Development Goals, and be able to compete globally.
"Let us all use this opportunity to work towards the common goal through the FAO programmes and shape the global agenda for aquaculture and fisheries in general," she said.