A fisherman offloads rock lobster at Kalk Bay harbour. Over-exploitation, environment degradation, habitat destruction and climate change are affecting seafood stocks. Picture: Reuters
Cape Town - Half of all the fish caught in South Africa is exported to the European Union (EU) with Cape hake the most popular fish species, making up more than 50 percent.

This is according to Massimo de Luca, head of trade and economics at the EU delegation to South Africa. He was a key speaker at the Annual Fish SA Conference 2017 at the Lagoon Beach hotel in Milnerton on Wednesday.

De Luca gave a presentation: “Benefits of South Africa’s Economic Partnership with the European Union”.

He said South Africa was a net exporter of fish with the EU proven to be a stable market, Cape Hake being the most traded species, accounting for 53 percent of exports last year, followed by squid, at 27 percent.

De Luca said South Africa’s main commercial fisheries total catch in 2013 totalled 427 000 tons worth R8 billion, Cape hake making up 40 percent, while the Western Cape was responsible for 90 percent and 85 percent of total fish exports.

He said that although the EU was an important market for fish exports, it did not compare with citrus and wine exports.

Mapfumo said trade in fish and fishery products had expanded considerably in recent decades, fuelled by growing production driven by high demand, with the fisheries sector operating in an increasingly globalised environment.

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He said 78 percent of all seafood products were estimated to be exposed to international trade competition.

“China is the largest fish producer, largest exporter and major importer.

“The EU is by far the largest single market for fish imports, followed by US and Japan.”

Mapfumo said 67 percent of fishery exports, in value, are now directed to developing countries and these increase in number of regional trade agreements.

He said, in 2014, South Africa imported 1400 00 tons of fish valued at R367 million and exported 135 000 tons worth R519 million.

Mapfumo said the issues affecting international trade in fishery products on the environmental side included over-exploitation of fish stocks, environment degradation and habitat destruction, bio-security, disease outbreaks and climate change dynamics.

He said that the economic issues included the volatility of commodity prices in general and the impact on producers and consumers, currency exchange volatility and its impact on trade in fishery products.

It also included prices and distribution of margins and benefits throughout the fisheries value-chain.

CAPE ARGUS