Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  02 Nov 2009

FISHING: Eyethu Keeps Nicely Afloat


Recent Western Cape Business News

REDUCED quotas in the fishing industry have put a strain on companies’ balance sheets, but Port Elizabeth-based Eyethu Fishing is still managing to do quite well.

Based in Port Elizabeth for the past 20 years, and part of the Pioneer Fishing Group, the company is noted for its excellent pelagic catches, and also for the high quality of its white fish catches, mainly hake.

A very big part of their market lies in export, with some 60% of their pilchard (pelagic) catch normally going overseas, and about 40% of their hake. However, with reduced demand from overseas since the financial crisis, that proportion of hake is down to about 18%, Nel says.

Obviously this is an unfortunate development, and there is a very fine line between being profitable or beginning to ship water, so to speak. But what keeps us quite nicely afloat is our emphasis mainly on quality, rather than mere volume. We do net good volumes within our quota. But we concentrate mainly on fish of high quality, and this is appreciated by our customers,” he says.

Eyethu operates a deep sea trawler capable of carrying 35 tons of fish, and has recently converted an inshore trawler to a longliner capable of holding 30 tons of fish, and equipped it with state-of-the-art longliner equipment. Their ships are equipped with all the latest equipment, including radar and even net monitors, which enable them to tell what type of fish are in their nets at any given time. Their operations are EU and NRCS approved, and also PPECB approved.

In the fishing industry, Nel says, there is a saying that 40% is Nature and God’s will. “You are at the mercy of the elements, so to fish successfully and show a profit takes skill, the right equipment and many years of experience. Happily, I can say that we have those attributes, and we are very proud of it.”

Eyethu Fishing is a BEE company, and has a policy of creating employment for as many people as it can, economically. So it is labour intensive, using workers rather than processing machinery, and finding that they do the job very well. The company believes in multi-skilling, so when a worker shows promise and aptitude, he or she receives further training, and in due course advancement and better pay. That makes for a happy ship, at sea and on shore.

Eyethu is also active in the field of social responsibility, Nel points out. “For example, we sponsor selected students in their studies and supply computers to schools which are desperately short of equipment.”

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