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Thaleda goes fishing

The under-utilised Lydenburg Hatchery will soon get a revamp if all goes according to plan. Thaba Chweu Local Economic Development Agency (Thaleda) intends to start producing trout at the facility.

13 February 2013

The Lydenburg Hatchery breeds several species of troutThe Lydenburg Hatchery breeds several species of trout

Also known as Die Kuilen Trout Fishing Project, the hatchery is one of the projects with potential to create jobs for local people that have been identified by Thaleda. Thaleda is one of the agencies in Mpumalanga established with the support of the Industrial Development Corporation to drive economic expansion and job creation at a local level. The agency is wholly owned by the Thaba Chweu Local Municipality.

Sindiswa Mathebula, Thaleda's programme manager, said: "We have been in talks with a group of Cape Town and overseas investors who would like to be involved in the project because of the type of species of trout that can be farmed here."

Die Kuilen is situated in the southeast of the town of Lydenburg, Mpumalanga, and historically has been active in the production of trout and certain yellow fish species. But the age of the facilities and water and technical constraints have put the brakes on output. The facility opened in 1948 and was managed by the Mpumalanga Parks Board.

"We want to continue with the same business model as before, although it needs some revamping and marketing to make it economically viable," said Mathebula.

Current status

The parks board has changed its approach to fisheries and conservation, and is not mandated to pursue commercial aquaculture. The essential infrastructure to continue commercial aquaculture at Die Kuilen is intact, and the site is serviced by a tarred road, electricity from the national electricity grid, and telecommunication lines.

Water resources are the only constraint, but Mathebula believes this can be dealt with through potential investors. "Although the infrastructure needs a little sprucing up, it will be beneficial to pupils who can come here for educational purposes," she said.

Bushveld small-scale yellow fish (labeobarbus polylepis) are bred for conservation at the hatchery, but so far only 70 fish have been returned to the wild. Mosquito fish (gambusia affinis), Mozambique tilapia (oreochromis mossambicus), and banded tilapia (tilapia sparrmanii) are some of the other species being bred at the hatchery.

Limiting the production of many of these species is the lack of a dedicated, full-time aquaculturist, as well as the lack of an adequate supply of good water.

Potential

Despite the water shortages and repairs needed to make the hatchery viable, there are plans for what can become. These include turning part of the hatchery into a recreational fly fishery. The demand for fly fishing localities has been identified by Thaleda and the conversion of the hatchery won't require major construction.

The facility can also produce other indigenous species and species needing conservation. It also has the potential to become a cold water aquaculture and fisheries training complex and centre of expertise. This will need co-operation from the Department of Agriculture and Land Administration, especially its aquaculture division.

Technical support for such an initiative will be sourced from other national aquaculture institutions, for example, Rhodes University, the University of Stellenbosch, and the University of Limpopo.

 

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