Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  14 Dec 2011

FISHING: Fishing BEE deal going strong


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DESPITE often difficult times, a black economic empowerment deal in the fishing industry struck in 1999 is proving what true transformation could be about.

The initial deal saw the formation of Compass Trawling by four shareholders – Blue Continent Products; and three smaller players, namely, Surmon Fishing, Bhana Coastal Fishing and Azanian Fishing – with shareholding directly proportional to the quota contribution made.

Twelve years later, three shareholders remain after the buy-out of Surmon Fishing by Bhana Coastal Fishing.

The company says it is hungry for growth and interested in either bringing additional shareholders on board who have hake quota available, or buying quota to optimise capacity on their boat, the Compass Challenger.

Lynweth Bhana, the owner of Bhana Coastal Fishing which is based in Mossel Bay says, “Success has not been easy, especially when you are an individual BEE partner, like me. It has only been possible as a result of my commitment to the industry and the strong relationship of trust, support and mutual benefit that exists between the main shareholder, Blue Continent, and me.”

Bhana’s commitment to the industry, in particular, the creation and provision of sustainable jobs, motivated him to enter a bid to buy Surmon Fishing in 2010 to prevent the Surmon quota from leaving the joint venture. The latter would have placed the livelihood of the 50 crew of the Compass Challenger and their families in jeopardy. As a 100% BEE company, Bhana’s offer gained the approval of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in June this year, as it was in line with the department’s transformation policy, which dictates that long-term fishing rights can only be transferred to a company of equal or greater BEE ownership status.

Bhana says he is now setting his vision on the horse mackerel industry for the 2015 applications. However, his immediate focus remains on growing his share of the hake sector by optimising the Challenger’s capacity to process an additional 1 000 tons of hake in its ultra-modern factory per annum.

As such, the company is hoping to buy quota from others wanting to exit the industry or alternatively enter into partnership with those with substantial hake quota available.

The Challenger, a 57-meter sea freezing trawler, was purchased for R20.5 million from Iceland in 2001 to allow the company to catch its own fish, as opposed to outsourcing its catch. This led to a further investment of R12.5 million for a refit of the vessel’s onboard factory to suit the hake industry. The rebuild included the installation of specialized filleting, skinning and freezing equipment.

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