FARMERS in Franschhoek are known for producing some of the best wine in the world, but if one farmer has his way, the region will also be known for fish farming.
Gregory Stubbs, chief executive officer of Three Streams Smokehouse, has been running his trout farm and processing shed for the past 25 years.
What started out as three small pools that he set up while he was studying aquaculture have turned into a business that employs more than 120 people and supplies retail hotels and restaurants around the country as well as retailers like Woolworths.
Yesterday’s visit by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to Stubbs’s farm coincides with the aquaculture conference taking place in the city.
The conference was organised by the department with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN.
The conference, which started on Monday and ends tomorrow, has attracted about 130 delegates from 61 countries around the world.
Asanda Njobeni, the director of sustainable aquaculture management at the department, said the conference was helping to broaden the network of the South African aquaculture industry.
It was also being used to help build capacity through making contact with people in other countries who have the expertise and can help train local people to run their own aquaculture farms.
Njobeni said that since the amount of fish in our oceans was decreasing rapidly because of overfishing, farming fish on land was becoming a more attractive and viable option.
He said the department currently had permit systems in place and ways of making sure that the farmers followed biosecurity measures and that they keep to best practices.
Stubbs said the Western Cape was most ideal for trout farming, because the water was cold enough for this type of farming but that due to the province not getting rainfall throughout the year, they had moved some of their operation to Lesotho where there is enough water and it is cold enough.
He imports the eggs from the US and they are hatched on the farm, without any chemical treatment, before being sent to Lesotho where they will grow to a certain size before being sent back to Franschhoek for processing and packaging before being sold.
He said the important part of his business was that he owned the production process for his farm from start to the end product and that helped with tracing the product should anything go wrong.
Stubbs said he was also conducting research to see if it would be viable to farm salmon as well, which he has to import from Norway.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told delegates: “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.”
published on 29 March 2012 in the Cape Argus