We bid farewell to one of our founding Members of our Association this month, Mr. Donaggi. He was and still is, a Pioneer in the Pelagic Fishing Industry and continues to be a part of our Industry.
Born and grew up on the West Coast as a descendant of one of the Italian families that settled on the West Coast after the First World War. These Italian settlers were labourers with skills in the fishing industry and were instrumental in pioneering the fishing industry, more specifically the Pelagic fishing industry, on the West Coast. Although they never progressed to investors or high flying industrialists in the industry, through their skills transfer they established the Pelagic fishing industry on the West Coast. During my Matric year at Jan van Riebeeck High School in Cape Town, I decided to qualify as a Pelagic fisherman after completing my school career. As an eighteen year old school-leaver, I left to Walvis Bay, in Namibia, and started my career as a Pelagic fisherman. I worked in Angola for a year and also for a few months in Mauritania on the West Coast of Africa with the South African fishing vessels operating there during that era. I gained valuable practical experience during that time and was also able to establish myself financially through good earnings. I completed several seaman and navigation courses at the former Genl. Botha Maritime Training College in Granger Bay, Cape Town and by the age of 20, I qualified as Skipper of fishing vessels in South African waters. At the age of 22 I was appointed as a Skipper of Pelagic fishing vessels in Namibia for 2 years. Thereafter, I was employed as a Skipper, by Southern Seas Fishing in Saldanha for 26 years, until I retired at age 50.
During my years as a Pelagic fisherman, the plight of Pelagic fishermen in general struck a chord with me and I decided to do something to better the working and social benefits of Pelagic fishermen as a whole. I established the Weskus Pelagiese Vissersvereniging in 1985 and acted as Chairman for 20 years.
Some of the benefits achieved for Pelagic fishermen were:
- A pension fund for all active Pelagic fishermen since 1 January 1986
- Medical benefits for all active Pelagic fishermen since 1 January 1989
- An improved and more beneficial payment structure of commissions on catches for Pelagic fishermen
During October 1990, the Weskus Vissers Koőporasie was established. I was elected Chairman and kept the position until 2012. This structure endeavoured to acquire a fishing quota for the Pelagic fishermen and was successful in obtaining the biggest quota of all new entrants at the time. The proceeds from this quota was, and today still is, utilised to fund the pension scheme and medical benefits of all active and retired Pelagic fishermen. Bonuses from profits are also paid to members annually. By invitation, I attended meetings of the South African Inshore Association from 1985, representing pelagic fishermen. From 1998 until 2018, I served as a Member of the Executive Committee of the South African Pelagic Fishing Industry Association.
POST 1994 INVOLVEMENT
Since 1995 I have assisted new entrants in the fishing industry in establishing themselves and committing themselves to investing in the fishing industry. One of the success stories of my above endeavours was the establishment of Bongolethu Fishing Enterprises (Pty) Ltd which provided a lucrative investment opportunity for new previously disadvantaged companies such as Ezolwandle Fishing, Ezintlanzini Fishing, Emachibini Fishing, Trade Motto (Pty) Ltd and Umfondini Fishing (Pty) Ltd. During a Ministerial and Competition Commission approved transaction, in March 2009, the enterprise was sold to Foodcorp for a purchase price of R 76 Million, which resulted in many shareholders (of whom many were previously disadvantaged factory workers) becoming instant millionaires. The grouping involved in the Bongolethu transaction was known as The Small Pelagic Fishing Companies Coalition. After the Bongolethu transaction, we continued to search for and provide investment opportunities for small right holders with limited or no investment in the industry. Afro Fishing (Pty) Ltd was established and a new sardine cannery was built during 2007. A 22% stake acquired in this venture in Mossel Bay. This establishment was sold during May 2018 to a Namibian / Angolan Consortium.
I am currently still involved in the fishing industry, mainly as an administrator of fishing rights, a mentor to small fishing companies, requiring skills transfer and a facilitator of investment opportunities for small fishing companies in the industry. The current grouping under my care consists of 7 vessel owning companies and 12 small rights holders. They are all actively involved in the industry through catching, processing and marketing of their Rights. Their collective investment in assets in the industry totaled approximately R 35 M. This grouping provides investment opportunities for small rights holders and access to processing facilities from a strong bargaining position, which they would have not had individually.
PERSONAL ONGOING INVOLVEMENT
- Weskus Vissers Koőporasie – Fishermen’s organisation Ex-Chairman and shareholder
- Tirade Props 153 (Pty) Ltd – Pelagic Rights Holder, Director and shareholder
- Soundprops 1167 Investments (Pty) Ltd – Pelagic Rights Holder, Director
- Compass Fishing Enterprises CC – Fishing Rights Administrator, Managing Member
- MVB Atlantic Enterprises (Pty) Ltd – Vessel owning company, Director
- Wild Break 61 (Pty) Ltd – Vessel owning company, Director
- Emerald Fishing (Pty) Ltd – Vessel owning company, Director
- Barracuda Fisheries (Pty) Ltd – Vessel owning company, Director
- Umadala Fishing (Pty) Ltd – Vessel owning company, Director
- MVB Highland Queen Beleggings (Pty) Ltd – Vessel owning company
- Jakob Rose Beleggings (Pty) Ltd – Vessel owning company, Managing Director
- Mosselbay Canners (Pty) Ltd – Shareholder in processing facility, Director
- Weskus Pelagiese Vissers Pensioenfonds – Pension Fund Member
- Saldanha Ship Yards – Maintenance and repairs of fishing vessels, Director