On 19 February, H.E. Aurélien Lechevallier, Ambassador of France to South Africa, visited the Marine Research Aquarium in Cape Town, a key place for the South African – French partnership in aquaculture research. He met with researchers and praised their efforts to ensure sustainable aquaculture development in South Africa.
The Marine Research Aquarium is one of the first multifunctional research aquaculture facilities in South Africa. Its objective is to support research and technology development of the South African aquaculture industry by focusing on end users and by providing scientists with the means to develop their research and their international partnerships.
Andrea Bernatzeder, acting director for aquaculture research and development at the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), and Brett Macey, aquaculture scientist at DEFF introduced aquaculture research and presented the activities conducted in the aquarium to the visitors. The facility hosts laboratories such as molecular biology, parasitology and microscopy laboratories, as well as breeding systems for all lives stages of sea animals. “Here, we study more particularly abalones, green algae, sea urchins, dusky kobs and spotted grunters” said Brett Macey.
A growing collaboration between Africa and France
DEFF scientists continuously intensify their collaboration with international partners in aquaculture science. The AfriMAQUA international research network, supported by the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), is one example of this positive dynamic. It brings together around fifty African and French scientists to foster knowledge sharing, capacity building and scientific cooperation for a sustainable marine aquaculture development on the continent. The network encourages young researchers and students to participate in training sessions and online courses and to develop their collaboration with other research laboratories.
Maria Darias, an IRD aquaculture specialist from the MARBEC research unit, will soon start a two-year assignment in Cape Town, to work even more closely with her colleagues from DEFF and the University of Cape Town. She advocates for the development of a nutrition-sensitive approach to aquaculture, to ensure that species that the industry breeds not only contribute to food security, but also improve people’s nutrition and health.
H.E. Aurélien Lechevallier was impressed by the visit of the Aquarium: “Global fisheries must be controlled to preserve ecosystems, but the demand for seafood products is growing everywhere in the world. If it is well managed, aquaculture can provide sustainable solutions to this issue. Africa has a large potential for aquaculture. Its development needs to respect both the environment and the populations.” He added: “France is proud to support research to promote sustainable marine aquaculture practices and to see South African and French scientists working closely together to achieve this goal.”
The Consul General of France in Cape Town, Laurent Alberti, the Cooperation Attaché at the French Consulate in Cape Town, Paul Cavalier and the IRD representative in South Africa, Jean-Pascal Torréton, also participated in the visit.
Meet Brett Macey in his video interview: