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Tourism and Fisheries Industries Thrive: KZN South Coast’s Ocean Economy Gains Ground

“The Government’s strategic support programme called Operation Phakisa, has set a target to grow the Ocean Economy’s GDP contribution to R177bn by 2033, equivalent to 350% growth of its total value-add in 2016.”- The Department of Trade and Industry and Competition (the DTIC)

The 120km coastal stretch, proximity to Durban Port, three Marine Protected Areas, and the annual Sardine Run combine to make the KZN South Coast a vibrant ocean destination just waiting to be uncovered. With South Coast Tourism & Investment Enterprise’s (SCTIE) providing local investor support, and Operation Phakisa assisting maritime businesses at a national level, now is the time to invest in the KZN South Coast’s Ocean Economy!

“The maritime sector has been identified as one of our key growth sectors, and we’re working closely with local businesses to uncover the many investment opportunities afforded here,” explained Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of SCTIE. “With our subtropical climate, Blue Flag beaches, and world-renowned dive sites, the KZN South Coast’s tourism potential within the Ocean Economy is gaining ground, but there is investment potential to be found in the fisheries and boating sectors. We have licenced commercial and subsistence fishers, multiple launch sites, wholesale distributors and multiple species of fish making this a viable maritime market.”

The KZN South Coast’s location on the eastern seaboard of South Africa means direct access to the Indian and Pacific Ocean rims via Durban Port – the continent’s busiest port. Durban already boasts capacity for offloading large crude carriers, with the country the leading dry dock for ship repair and maintenance in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the DTIC, South African boat and shipbuilders are already producing advanced crafts, exporting close to US$200m (around R3.7b) of boats and ships annually. Further to this, local boat and small shipbuilders supply crafts to global clients, including the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Australian Defence Force, the United Nations and Singapore’s Special Operations Forces. The potential to develop these skills and build on the Ocean Economy exists on the KZN South Coast.

The region is also home to ADCAN Marine Suppliers, a large-scale commercial fishery that employs around 40 people and supplies products to hotels, restaurants, and the retail sector. During the winter months, the annual Sardine Run passes the KZN South Coast which brings a wealth of marine activity to the region. During this time, ADCAN – which has its own processing unit – is able to process three tonnes daily for around six weeks. Beyond sardine supply, the company supplies local fish, tuna, crayfish, calamari, and prawns, with demand for quality seafood always a constant.

Another significant maritime-focused company is Tightline Fisheries which specialises in a comprehensive range of fresh and frozen seafood, as well as high-quality restaurant catering products, available countrywide. They consist of a wholesale distribution factory in Uvongo, an accredited EU-processing and export factory, shops in Margate and Shelly Beach with in-house dining, and takeaways and purchasing of top-class products for The Home Chef restaurant.

Five local commercial ski boats supply Tightline Fisheries with fresh crayfish, and the company also partners with Ocean Trawling which has two prawn and crustacean vessels off the Durban coast. Tightline Fisheries employs around 200 locals annually and supports a number of local charities and small businesses.

As an established tourism destination, the ocean economy holds a lot of potential for developing existing tourism products on the KZN South Coast as well as investing in new, value-add tourism opportunities. The annual Sardine Run, which takes place in the winter months and is considered the greatest biomass migration on earth, is a massive attraction for scuba divers, fishing charters, and seine netters. This is also a drawcard for international filmmakers and production companies looking for unique nature-based content for documentaries, feature films, series, and more. With the annual whale migration another ocean spectacle, the potential exists for shore-based whale-watching guides operating from the many whale-watching decks along the KZN South Coast.

While SCTIE is on hand to connect investors with local business opportunities in the maritime sector, investors are also able to take advantage of the national government’s Operation Phakisa initiative. Launched in 2014, this initiative promotes the Ocean Economy by speeding up and simplifying the processes involved in creating, operating, and using the country’s ports and maritime businesses.

Investment opportunities in the KZN South Coast maritime sector:

  • Big boat builders for the commercial fishery sector
  • Skills training in the repair and maintenance of boats
  • Investment in next-generation ship and boat-building technology services
  • Provision of storage and logistics services
  • Increased supply of seafood to local buyers provided the consideration of additional permits sourced from the Department: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)
  • Training of anglers with the intention to make them commercial fishers
  • Fish packing in the commercial sector
  • The expansion of launch sites along the KZN South Coast
  • Training for boat / fishing guides on fishing charter trips
  • Tourism-focused diving and fishing charters
  • Whale watching and other ocean-based tour guides
  • Explore new ocean safari tourism outings
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