I&J’s R500m investment reflects its confidence in fishing industry
bdlive.co.za - Jun 5th 2014, 13:22
South Africa’s two largest fishing companies, I&J and Oceana Group, are investing in their aging trawler fleets in preparation for the critical 2020 fishing quota allocation.
I&J, a subsidiary of JSE-listed AVI group, is spending R500m on two fishing vessels and a state-of-the-art freezer trawler.
“This is a major investment programme for us and possibly the single largest in the industry for the last 25 years,” said MD Jonty Jankovich-Besan.
He said the last time the company bought new vessels was about 11 years ago.
Oceana is also building up its fleet. CEO Francois Kuttel said he expected the government would use capital expenditure as one of its criteria when it awards new quotas in seven years’ time.
Last year Oceana bought a fibreglass trawler for R27.8m, he said, adding that the group was planning “further investment”.
I&J’s largest and most expensive ship will be its new freezer trawler, which costs R225m, Mr Jankovich-Besan said.
“We are buying it second hand from Norway as the current owners are buying new ships at twice the price we are paying for it. The ship is only seven years old, but that is almost brand new in fishing terms.”
Called the Ramoen, the ship will catch mainly hake and is equipped so that fish caught at sea can be packed and frozen within an hour of coming out of the water.
The Ramoen’s catch will be destined for the export markets of southern Europe, Australia and the US.
South Africa has a total of 45 registered trawlers. There were 56 in 2000 and the fleet peaked in 2005 when there were 79 vessels.
Hake is the primary catch for these vessels, and the total allowable catch per year is 110,000 tonnes.
Fisheries consultant Shaheen Moolla said the investments were good news for the sector because as the fleet gets older it becomes less efficient and will not be able to meet the ever-stringent ecological requirements for the European Union, which is South Africa’s largest market for fish.
“In 2005 the Department of Fisheries made a policy decision to award fishing rights to the large deep-sea companies for 15 years as an incentive to encourage them to renew their trawlers, which had an average hull life of 17 years then,” he said.
But he said the continued policy uncertainty was dramatically demonstrated by the small-scale fishing rights allocation process that was so flawed it had to be cancelled and must now start again. From DFM Publishers (Pty) Ltd
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