In keeping with the Oceana Group’s recently revised long term strategy, the fishmeal factory at Hout Bay has finally been closed. But there is a plan to fill the gap with a first-of-a-kind training academy that focuses specifically on the needs of the fishing industry.
While no official announcements have been made by Oceana or the City of Cape Town, the process to strip the fishmeal plant and dismantle it has begun.
This is according to the Fresh Air Hout Bay website which has been actively monitoring the harbour since 2014. One of the issues it has been trying to resolve on behalf of the town’s residents, is the stink associated with the fishmeal plant.
In January 2019 Oceana said it was suspending operations in the Hout Bay fishmeal plant owing to economic viability. The decision was based on the fishmeal sector recording a “challenging year” mostly due to extended winter weather affecting fishing patterns. This had resulted in a 20% reduction in landings in South Africa despite a healthy anchovy biomass.
The closure of the Hout Bay fishmeal plant affected 58 people of whom 40 were redeployed to St Helena Bay, Laaiplek, and to the Oceana’s hake facility in Cape Town.
Oceana Maritime Training Academy
Oceana’s switch into training and education is an interesting development that fits into the company’s long term growth strategy.
It’s investing in a R25 million Oceana Maritime Training Academy. This is the first training academy of its kind in South Africa focusing specifically on the needs of the commercial fishing industry.
Due to become operational by the end of April 2020, Oceana anticipates training more than 5000 learners in the first year. Of these 100 will be new entrants on learnership programmes, about 1700 small-scale fishers on various skills development programmes, and 200 learners from the Hout Bay community.
It will address scarce and critical skills identified in the fishing sector, with particular focus on small-scale fishers.
There are also plans for a satellite facility in Laaiplek.
Pipeline of talent
Oceana hopes that this will ultimately become a national academy in partnership with government and industry, and a regional academy for its own operations in South Africa and Namibia.
The company says it has called on the experts to help it shape the Academy and to align it with the small-scale fisheries policy and training offered will be varied, from engine maintenance and safety training to management and leadership.
The plan is that the Academy will cater not only to existing Oceana employees and new entrants to the industry, creating a pipeline of talent for the fishing industry, but also to small-scale fishers.
Says Oceana CEO, Imraan Soomra, “The old adage ‘teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’ is not on its own enough. We need also to empower people, to facilitate access to the right fishing tools and the right markets to sell their fish, and to foster the right business skills to empower them to derive the optimum benefits.
“Unfortunately, the fishing sector has always been the poor relation when it comes to skills development and training in the maritime industry, with plenty of private training centres for commercial shipping, cruise liners, and oil and gas facilities, but nothing of substance for the fishing industry.
“I am particularly excited by this initiative, which I believe will make a significant contribution in driving transformation, unlocking economic development, promoting food and job security, and delivering on our purpose.”
Source: Oceana Group Limited’s 2019 Integrated Report (December 2019)