The marine aquaculture sector is a strategic imperative for the IDC's agro-industries strategic business unit. It playa a developmental role.
Its strategic importance is due to mariculture being an emerging industry and its development will address the dwindling supplies of stock in traditional fishing hubs.
Oceanwise is an example of a typical mariculture project supported by the IDC. This business, established in 2000, was the first African company to successfully spawn and raise the dusky kob (kabeljou) and approached the corporation in 2009 to establish a hatchery and 300-tonne grow-out farm in the East London industrial development zone.
The location was chosen from various site options because of suitable water conditions for the growing of kob, infrastructure provided within the East London industrial development mariculture zone and environmental approvals obtained. The growth cycle for kob to reach a marketable size of 1kg to 1.5kg is 12 to 15 months. The fish is marketed to the retail and food sectors as fresh sustainable green fish.
In January 2012 the IDC's special credit committee approved funding of R38-million to Oceanwise. The funding will be used for a portion of the working capital required in respect of the existing 720 tonnes a year installed grow-out capacity and the expansion to 1 500 tonnes a year installed capacity on two sites. Simultaneously, a processing plant is being established in two phases.
The development impact is considered high because the IDC's funding will contribute to the development of a new industry. Oceanwise is based in an area zoned for mariculture in the East London industrial development zone, employs 77 people and will create 32 new jobs in the Eastern Cape.
On June 3 2008 the IDC participated in the official launch of cannery Afro Fishing in Mossel Bay in the southern Western Cape.
The R22-million IDC finance ensured that the black economic empowerment entity Mossel Bay Processors obtained a 60% shareholding in the new venture. Diversified fishing group Viking Fishing and family-owned fishing company Saldanha Group hold the remaining 30% and 10% respectively. BEE shareholders will hold an effective 39% of Afro Fishing.
The BEE consortium, which includes fishermen and women from St Helena Bay and Plettenberg Bay, was responsible for signing a 20-year lease with landowners Transnet National Ports Authority for the location on Quay One where the new factory was built.
In terms of the venture, Afro Fishing will purchase freshly caught pilchards from the fishing fleets operating out of Mossel Bay. Historically, pilchard shoals were trawled on South Africa West Coast, facilitating the establishment of the country's canning facilities in that region. However, a few years ago the shoals shifted to the southern Cape coast between Cape Point and Port Alfred, which meant the raw fish was brought ashore in Mossel Bay before being transported to the canning facilities on the West Coast. This resulted in higher input costs and the lowering of fish quality.
Afro Fishing can produce about 20 000 tonnes annually during the eight-month catching season, having already secured the major portion of its required supply through agreements with its shareholders. The balance of raw fish purchases will be sourced from other quota holders. The finished product will be supplied under existing well-known brands.
The project creates 320 annualised jobs at full production, predominantly among previously disadvantaged women, to benefit 450 people in the Mossel Bay community, which has 40% unemployment.