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Simplicity aids profit and the environment, says research

SOUTH AFRICA - South Africa's aquaculture industry should focus on farming 'simple' creatures, such as molluscs and seaweed, rather than carnivorous fish, says a University of Cape Town researcher.

Seaweed farms are successful in some areas of Africa

The country is currently formulating an aquaculture policy to determine the direction of the fledgling industry.

John Bolton's research on the policy was published earlier this week in the South African Journal of Science.

So far, pilot aquaculture projects have focused on farming the fish traditionally harvested along the South African coastline. But according to Bolton, fish farms create a lot of pollution, releasing large amounts of nitrogen into the environment, and use up a lot of water in processing, which is a problem in arid South Africa.

Creatures further down the food chain ― such as seaweed and molluscs ― require less care, have higher survival rates and the farms are less expensive to run, says Bolton.

They also have a smaller ecological impact, he says. Tank farms of abalone ― a type of mollusc ― can recycle waste to make abalone food and absorb nitrogen-rich waste from fish aquaculture, reducing the potential negative ecological impact of both types of farming.

Abalone farming has already had some success in South Africa. The Abalone Farmers Association of South Africa says 13 land-based tank farms produced 890 tonnes of high-priced abalone for export last year, and another ten farms are in development.

Seaweed farms ― the product of which can be used in food additives and as a stabiliser in toothpaste and shoe polish ― have had some success elsewhere in Africa.

Source: SciDev.Net