AquaVitae in South Africa: Abalone farm and partner visits during the scientific meeting of 2022

Members of the AquaVitae Consortium in South Africa. Pictures by Pietro Di Modica.

Thirty members of the AquaVitae consortium met face-to-face in Morgan Bay, South Africa from 15 to 18 November. At the scientific meeting participants exchanged scientific results and made plans for the final year of the project.

The project participants were excited for the opportunity to meet in South Africa. The project coordinator of AquaVitae, Philip James stated:

“It was a pleasure for us to be able to visit our colleagues in South Africa for the first time in the AquaVitae project and they offered us a spectacular venue and the warmest of welcomes. These meetings always provide us with the opportunity to really get to know our work colleagues and cement the trans-Atlantic links between science and industry that have been established through the project.’’

Cliff Jones, a Professor at Rhodes University, hosted the meeting at Morgan Bay on behalf of the South African team along with Philip James. Wild Coast Abalone and Marifeed, the South African aquaculture companies involved in the project, were instrumental in organizing the farm tours.

The meeting location also provided the opportunity for students from Rhode University, Stellenbosch University and Fort Hare University to attend and gain first-hand experience of an EU project meeting.

This 3-day-meeting served to present advances in key research results and provided the opportunity to plan for the final 12 months of the project.

On the second day of the meeting all participants were welcomed on a tour of the Wild Coast Abalone farm. Wild Coast Abalone is a producer of abalone and macroalgae and AquaVitae partner.

Richard Clark (owner) guided them through the farm explaining the history and development of his company that opened its doors in 1998. AquaVitae partners had the opportunity to see the evolution of the farm, the different processes for culturing abalone, the innovations linked to the AquaVitae project and their relationship with Marifeed, another South African industry partner in the project that manufactures abalone feeds.

After the meeting in Morgan Bay some participants were able to join and be welcomed by Dirk Weich, Marifeed CEO, for a second farm tour in the Hermanus area, north of Cape Town. This tour began with a stakeholder event in Hermanus in the evening, followed by a full day tour of three abalone farms (HIK Abalone, Buffeljachts and Aqunion) where the group were given a tour of technical innovations and productions systems for abalone. This day culminated in a ‘braai’ (south African term for a BBQ) and wine tasting from this incredible area.

Some AquaVitae partners stayed on in Cape Town to have a face-to-face meeting with members of the ASTRAL sea urchin team, a second H2020 project funded alongside AquaVitae. Partners concluded that this was a very productive meeting and a great opportunity to create links between the two sister projects.

At the end of the trip part of the consortium were able to attend the first day of the stakeholder event organized by EATiP (European aquaculture, technology and innovation platform) to explore the possibilities of creating a mirror platform in South Africa. This is a continuation of similar activities in Brazil. It was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the broader aquaculture industry in South Africa and offer a perspective of the value of such platforms to the European aquaculture industry.

This was an incredible opportunity to visit to South Africa and build on the relationships between European, Brazilian and European aquaculture stakeholders. Our heartfelt thanks to our warm and generous hosts.