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Kob-Farming Is A Winner In Eastern Cape

Economics +1 more

SOUTH AFRICA - Farming of kob also known as daga, drum, kabeljou or Argyrosomus holoepidotus is proving to be the driving force behind developing an aquaculture culture in the Eastern Cape.

From Andre de Wet's zero-waste kob farm in Mooiplaas to Espadon Marine and Pure Ocean's kob ventures at the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), this new industry is gaining ground here, according to Dispatch of South Africa.

A moderate climate, close proximity to the sea and – in the case of Espadon and Pure Ocean – the help of the IDZ have spurred on the trio separately to take on the kob market.

Mr de Wet's Mooiplaas farm sold its first kob harvest last year to I&J. Since then, he has put the brakes on his business for a while to look at sites closer to the coast for another grow-out facility. Once this new project is off the ground, he will continue to breed kob at Mooiplaas, moving the fish to the coast when they are more mature. This move has to do with circulating fresh sea water into the tanks – all aimed at better tasting fish at the end of the day.

Over at the IDZ, construction workers, graders and builders are hard at work on two sites.

At Pure Ocean, a two-year pilot project will hopefully get off the ground in October. Currently, the site is under construction and will ultimately be used to produce 200 tons of dusky kob – if all goes according to plan.

Pure Ocean development manager, Andre Bok, said the pilot project would test economic viability and test how receptive the market would be to the farmed kob.

In total, 45 million rand (ZAR) will be invested in the project, but Mr Bok said the investors were well aware of the risks such farming attracts.

Also aware of risks – especially biosecurity threats by being such close neighbours with Seatek abalone farm and Pure Ocean – are the owners of Espadon Marine. Guy Musson, Maryke Musson and Liam Ryan moved their kob farming production from Hermanus and Gauteng to the EL IDZ after scouring the country for viable sites.

Ms Musson told Dispatch they settled on East London because of the excellent climate and supportive environment of the EL IDZ. At the moment Espadon Marine's kob are housed in a temporary facility adjoining Seatek while construction of their permanent facility goes on next door. They will move in in the next couple of weeks, and will also have their first batch of East London-grown kob ready for consumers before the 2010 World Cup.

Espadon successfully sold farmed kob in the Gauteng premium market from 2006 to 2009 from its pilot production plant in Centurion, before moving to East London.

Espadon Marine has already invested ZAR30 million of internal funds in its completed pilot phase and has also already invested a further ZAR23 million in phase one of its commercial kob hatchery and grow-out facility in the IDZ, which brings its investment to over ZAR53 million to date, with further investment and expansions being planned simultaneously.

IDZ spokesperson, Ayanda Ramncwana, told Dispatch that most of the land designated for aquaculture within the zone – 30 hectares – had already been taken but that if more aquaculture investors were to show an interest, they would be welcomed.