South Africa: Trout Wars - in a Developing Economy With So Many Challenges, the Fuss Looks Fishy

opinion

The issue of invasive species has spawned heated debate. In South Africa, one has emerged around trout, a non-native species that was introduced in 1890 in the Mooi River in KwaZulu-Natal. The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (Deff) recently stopped short of including rainbow and brown trout on its invasive species list - a listing that would leave the trout industry belly-up. Talks are under way, but the two species could still get an invasive listing.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

The stakes for those with a vested interest are as high as some of the mountain streams where South African trout thrive. In the 130 years since the original introduction, an industry has grown that contributed around R1.8-billion annually to South Africa's GDP and sustained the employment of around 13,000 people in 2014, according to an analysis that year by Cobus Venter, an economic consultant.

The industry includes hatcheries and distribution networks, retail and restaurant food sales, fly fishing venues with accommodation and dams or river access, retail shops catering to fly fishers and the bewildering assortment of gear they sport, a small local manufacturing sector that produces flies and other equipment, professional guides,...

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