Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  20 Mar 2009

MARINE: Aquaculture Key At Premier


Recent Western Cape Business News

PREMIER Fishing, which is controlled by Cape-based empowerment company Sekunjalo Investments, appears to be making great strides in cutting its cost base to ensure maximum profitability from its export lobster and abalone ventures.

But it seems Premier Fishing will not be holding back at its aquaculture initiative – which could enhance the export revenue lines from the group’s core lobster business.

At a time when the fishing industry was straining under high fuels costs, Premier Fishing initiated a major restructuring at the squid factory in Humansdorp, the pelagic factory in Saldanha Bay and the south Coast rock lobster business (where partnerships and joint ventures were sought out).

While much of the focus is on the export lobster business (which is understandable, considering the rand’s recent weakness to major currencies), there seems to be a strong push at Premier Fishing around bringing the abalone farming initiative to critical mass.

While initially viewed as a promising sideline business, it seems Premier Fishing is now looking for significant returns from the aquaculture division, which is headquartered in Gansbaai.

No doubt prospects for abalone farming have been seriously enhanced by the decision by the government’s decision to stop wild abalone harvesting.

Premier has already invested heavily in its Gansbaai farms, mainly in a ambitious bid to shift the maximum harvest from 120 tons to 250 tons by 2012.

The group has also expanded its operations geographically by acquiring (as reported previously in CBN) the PE-based Marine Growers.

Sekunjalo has not yet disclosed any revenue numbers for the aquaculture division – which is a tad disappointing since a number of observers are trying to grasp the true potential (and scope) of the venture.

In Sekunjalo’s latest annual report, group CEO Mo Kajee wrote that aquaculture investments had proved wise since the abalone farming division continued to deliver excellent results “in the growth of its pipeline and in generating hard currency sales from Japan and China.”

He said it was not only the aim of Premier Fishing to acquire more abalone farms but to also evaluate other opportunities in aquaculture “due to the demand for farmed product increasing as natural resources decline.”

Perhaps Premier Fishing - which has largely been seen to lag its larger competitors like Oceana, I&J and Sea Harvest – has finally taken a leading stride?

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