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Fishing industry milestone highlights change and transformation
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Fishing industry milestone highlights change and transformation

SADSTIA celebrates 50th anniversary

SOUTH AFRICA: Celebrating 50 years of solid contribution to the fishing industry, the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA) hosted a fitting affair overlooking a panoramic view of the ocean on Saturday evening at the Twelve Apostles in Cape Town.

Much has changed in the fishing industry since the establishment of SADSTIA in 1974 and the association has helped usher in many of the milestones in the sector. Following the declaration of South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 1977, the industry body was instrumental in rebuilding the country’s hake stocks after a period of uncontrolled fishing by international vessels.

“We have witnessed a remarkable transformation from a time where there was no black representation in the industry to the current situation where 86 percent of the deep-sea trawl fishery for hake is black owned.”

Welcoming guests to the function, current chair of SADSTIA, Innocent Nkosi Dwayi, highlighted the transformation of the hake fishery and its role as a major employer in the country. “We have witnessed a remarkable transformation from a time where there was no black representation in the industry to the current situation where 86 percent of the deep-sea trawl fishery for hake is black owned.”

Dwayi also noted the consistent Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification that the hake fishery has achieved since becoming the first hake fishery in the world to attain MSC accreditation in 2004. Over the last two decades, the fishery has been certified a further three times in 2009, 2015 and 2021.

Recognising individuals and companies

The success of the association and the sector rests on the shoulders of many individuals and companies – and SADSTIA took the opportunity to recognise a handful of these at their anniversary dinner.

Johann Augustyn, Secretary of the association, applauded two individuals in his speech as he handed over awards to Sue Middleton and Mike Bergh.

“This evening SADSTIA wishes to recognise the important role that Sue Middleton, Deputy Director General in the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), has played in the management of fisheries in South Africa,” he said as he summarised the pivotal moments in Middleton’s involvement in the industry.

Having occupied several important positions within government since 1996, Middleton first entered the fishing sector when she was appointed as a Director of Administration and Policy in the then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in 2006.

Over the years her name has become synonymous with the DFFE’s administration of the fishing sector and in June 2021 she was officially appointed as Deputy-Director-General responsible for the Branch: Fisheries Management in the Department of Forestry Fisheries and the Environment.

“As DDG, Sue brought stability after a time of great uncertainty between 2015 and 2019. SADSTIA recognises her understanding of the role of industry associations and her commitment to communicating with them in order to foster a spirit of mutual co-operation – to the economic benefit of South Africa,” said Augustyn.

“Sue was one of the first government officials to recognise that the fishing industry, and particularly the hake deep-sea trawl fishery, achieved a high degree of transformation after 1994. Her understanding of the dynamics of the fishing industry found expression in the way that she presided over a rational, fair and corruption-free fishing rights application process between 2021 and 2023,” he added.

Describing Mike Bergh as a long-time friend of the association, Augustyn introduced him as one of the stakeholders involved in the hake stock assessments that ensured successful MSC certifications over the years.

“His services have stood SADSTIA in good stead for more than 30 years and with this award we recognise and commend him for his excellence,” he said presenting Bergh with a plaque for his contributions.

Bergh currently works for OLSPS, a consulting company that engages in consulting to the fishing industry, software development and other activities on a global scale.

“Dr Mike Bergh is known throughout the fishing industry, in academia and in government. He commands huge respect as an extremely effective consultant with very highly developed mathematical skills,” he added.

Taking the mic, Vice Chair of SADSTIA Madoda Khumalo, in turn recognised two founding members of the association who remain key stakeholders in the hake fishery today.

“The South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA) was founded in 1974 with three members – I&J, Sea Harvest and Amalgamated Trawling. The idea was for the SADSTIA to speak on behalf of the deep-sea trawling industry, and to facilitate cooperation between members on matters of common interest,” he said adding that the association continues to remain true to these original objectives.  

“Tonight, we pay our respects to our founders. Amalgamated Trawling was bought by Sea Harvest in the 1980s and so we call on Felix Ratheb, CEO of Sea Harvest and Brendon Lucke, who represents the CEO of I&J, Roger Coppin, to receive these awards in honour of our founders,” he said.

Khumalo also acknowledged Tim Reddell, a former chair of SADSTIA who served a total of 14 terms. “Anyone who has held the position of chairman of SADSTIA will know that it requires a great deal of time, patience and passion for the business of fishing,” he said.  

“With this award, SADSTIA recognises the depth of Tim’s knowledge about fishing and his willingness to share it. We thank him for his many years of service to our association and his unstinting commitment to the South African fishing industry.”

Khumalo acknowledged Reddell for his positive input within the industry during his tenure as chair.

“With Tim as chairman, SADSTIA members began to carry marine scientists on their vessels, helping them to understand the complex dynamics between seabirds and trawl gear. Today, as a direct result of SADSTIA’s commitment to responsible fishing practices, our industry’s impact on seabirds is almost negligible.

“Similarly, it was under Tim’s chairmanship that SADSTIA adopted the notion of ringfencing the trawl grounds, an initiative that prevents damage to the seabed and preserves natural refuges for hake,” he added.  

The evening ended with an insightful talk by Dr Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, who provided input into potential outcomes of the upcoming elections. Guests took the opportunity to probe him for more details in a lively question and answer session that highlighted several scenarios.

 

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