Could an Abalone Farm save the beach?

Two of the SA’s largest illegal exports to the East are poached rhino horn and poached abalone

Ahead of the recent BRICKS summit President Cyril Ramaphosa hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to an official state visit at the Union Buildingd. During talks Ramaphosa was able to secure a R33bn loan to pull Eskom out of the dwang and another R4bn to fund Transnet’s bad behaviour. One has to wonder how these loans are any different from what Britain has been doing for the past hundred years and that is now denounced as colonialism.

Ramaphosa was at pains to explain that the Eskom and Transnet agreements were loans and thus, one would imagine, must be repaid to China over some agreed term. So if Eskom and/or Transnet don’t manage to repay the loans in terms of the agreement does this mean that China can repossess these state entities? Seems a rather slanted new colonisation process. Maybe our children and grandchildren would best start learning Mandarin.

But we digress for President Xi also committed R14.7-billion to investment in infrastructure and the economy with emphasis on Ocean and Green Economies. Consider that two of the SA’s largest illegal exports to the East are poached rhino horn and poached abalone. Now there is little that can be done to satiate the east’s predilection for rhino horn as breeding rhino quickly enough presents a challenge considering how many rhino are being brutally slaughtered each month.

But Abalone /  Perlemoen (from the Dutch paarlemoer  – mother of pearl) is a totally different can of worms or rather molluscs, for abalone can be farmed and if farmed in sufficient quantities, could bring an end to a 1-billion rand Abalone poaching industry that has almost wiped out natural abalone beds along the South African coastline.

A couple of years ago at the height of the conversation on how to save St Francis beach, local architect Trevor Tennant showed SFT a concept that could possibly offer a self-sustaining solution to restoring the eroding sand by combining it to an abalone farm. For whatever reasons the concept was not investigated and so returned to a bottom drawer to gather dust in Trevor’s desk.

Motivated by Ramaphosa announcement of China’s willingness to invest and particularly the mention of ‘Ocean Economy’  Trevor opened the drawer , dusted off the file and met with SFT over coffee at Pedal and Spoke a week or so ago. Trevor’s concept may be worth  considering for it could offer two solutions in one.

Brand SA reported last year that a new research study was being conducted by a team from the universities of Fort Hare and Rhodes, as well as Nelson Mandela University and commercial fisheries, in the hope finding ways to restock natural populations and produce abalone for the export market. The research was being headed by Professor Peter Britz of Rhodes, former head of the International Abalone Association. How far this research has progressed is uncertain but maybe this team should be invited to do some preliminary investigations to see if the concept is indeed feasible.

If workable the next step would be to find an investor willing to set up farm and if China is so willing to invest in our Ocean Economy there is no reason why our local government should not make noises in the right influencer’s ears to attract a Chinese developer.

SFT is not saying Trevor’s concept is financially or ecologically viable or that it will solve all the woes of beach erosion but it makes for interesting reading and surely must at least be investigated, if not as a way of replenishing the sand on St Francis Bay beach, then as a way of adding to our region’s existing ocean economy activities and lessening poaching activity.

Click to view Trevor’s Concept

And no! Abalone farming will not attract sharks.

Useful reading

Abalone aquaculture could end poaching

Not too late to enter

Entries open until 12h00 on 10 August for annual Beastmed Chokka Trail Run / Walk

It is all systems go for the annual Bestmed Chokka Trail Run, taking place this weekend from the Cape St Francis Resort.  The main events, the 62km ultra, 42km marathon, 23km half marathon as well as a 10km will happen on Saturday, giving all participants the opportunity to enjoy the Family Fun 5km which is also a team Charity Challenge on Sunday 12 August.

All businesses, schools and charity organisations are invited to pick a team of 4 for the 5km Charity Challenge which will start at 09h00.  All 4 runners (or walkers) can complete the 5km distance in their own time, but their individual finishing times will be added together as the team’s final time.  No one will know who the winning team was, until prize giving at 13h00.

The winning team will win a Bestmed hamper, a Team Building Event from the Cape St Francis Resort as well as R3000.00 cash for their nominated charity or school.  If more than 10 teams enter, their names will go into a lucky draw to win a Bestmed hamper, a Team Building Event from the Cape St Francis Resort as well as R1 500.00 cash for their charity or school.   The entry fee is R300 for the team.

Also on Sunday, while waiting for prize giving, will be 1km and 3km races for the juniors.

The start and finish of all the distances is the Cape St Francis Resort, from where they turn on the beach in a westerly direction towards Mostertshoek.  The 10km runners will run a short loop on the coastline before they turn back to Cape St Francis, while the 23km runners will remain on the Mostertshoek Road and the marathon and ultra marathon runners proceed to Dune Ridge Country House.   Halfway through the Eskom Conservation Reserve the 42km runners will turn into the dunefield for 6km of the Sand River, while the 62km runners proceed to Oyster Bay, coming back via the entire 15km dunefield.

At the road crossing on the R330 all distances will meet again, proceeding through the St Francis Field towards Port St Francis, the last waterpoint, before they make it for the finish line at the Resort.

Walkers are welcome in the 23km, 10km and 5km distances.  Please note dogs will only be allowed on the 5km and 10km distances.  With staged starting times it will be possible to see most athletes finish and support will be much appreciated.  Prize giving will be 12h30 for the 10km and 23km, and 15h00 for the 42km and 62km.

Online entries are open on www.stfrancissport.co.za till 10 August at 12h00 and a late registration fee will be payble on race weekend.  Make sure you register with ORGSU on that website before you choose your race.  Full information on starting times, number collection and more is also available on the website.

Live music, great food and kids entertainment will be the order of the day at the Cape St Francis Resort, who also offers a crazy weekend special:  book 2 nights and you get a third one free at R320 per person per night sharing, while children under 12 stay for half price.  Contact Anita Lennox on reservations@capestfrancisresort.co.za to book.

The race is sponsored by Bestmed, hosted by the Cape St Francis Resort and organised by St Francis Sport.  For more information, contact Esti Stewart on info@stfrancissport.co.za or 073 825 0835, or Eric Stewart on 082 394 7363.