Go fish: Cartel firm coughs up R34m in price-fixing deal

The outrage that greeted the prosecution of the bread cartel in South Africa reached a fever pitch so the news that many of the same companies now stand accused of running a pelagic fish cartel is likely to have South African consumers livid.

Pelagic fish includes three species: anchovy, pilchards and red eye.

Tiger Brands and Foodcorp were implicated in the bread cartel and have also been implicated in the fishing cartel.

However the Oceana Group, Premier Fishing SA, Pioneer Fishing, Gansbaai Marine, Terressan Pelagic Fishing, Paternoster Vissery, Saladanha Foods and Sea Harvest also stand accused of participating in collusive activity and violating the Competition Act.

This week the Competition Commission announced that it had reached a settlement with the Oceana Group and its subsidiary Oceana Brands, who had admitted to price-fixing, information sharing, market division, customer allocation and even drafting a contract that had a non-compete clause in it.

Oceana has implicated a number of the above-mentioned fishing companies in several of these anti-competitive practices too.

Attempts to get comment from the fishing companies alleged to have participated in the collusive activity on Tuesday were mostly unsuccessful.

Andre Coetzee, managing director of Gansbaai Marine, did state that he had no comment because he was not aware that Oceana had reached a settlement.

The Oceana Group major shareholders are Tiger Brands (37.6%), the Khula Trust (11.9%), Brimstone Investment Corporation  (9.7%).

Sea Harvest, another major fishing company, also has Tiger Brands and Brimstone Investment Corporation as shareholders.

According to the commission’s press statement, both Tiger Brands and Brimstone are “signatories” to a shareholders agreement with Sea Harvest, which contained a “non-compete clause”.

“The commission concluded that the shareholders agreement prevented Sea Harvest and Oceana from competing in the hake and pelagic fish markets, respectively, between 2000 and 2008,” it said.

Oceana has agreed to pay a penalty of just less than R34.8-million, which represents 5% of its turnover derived from its pelagic fish operations in South Africa in 2010.

This settlement still has to be confirmed by the Competition Tribunal.

The Commission launched its investigation into the pelagic fishing sector in July 2008.

While it was busy investigating Pioneer Fishing applied for and was granted conditional leniency in exchange for snitching on its fellow colluders.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Lloyd Gedye
Lloyd Gedye
Lloyd Gedye is a freelance journalist and one of the founders of The Con.

Related stories


Subscribers only

Ithala fails to act against board chairperson over PPE scandal

Morar asked to settle with the state and pay back the profit he made on an irregular tender

Vodacom swindled out of more than R24m worth of iPhones

A former employee allegedly ran an intricate scam to steal 8700 phones from the cellular giant

More top stories

ArcelorMittal is ‘slowly becoming a burial site’

After the deaths of three employees who got trapped in a control room, workers allege that management frequently coerces them to bypass health and safety procedures

Jacob Zuma misses court deadline to respond to contempt application

Recalcitrant former president holds virtual meeting with ANC top six

No money to fund first-time university students, Nzimande says

Higher education minister says NSFAS is experiencing a funding shortfall and has requested that universities extend their registration period

Tackling the Western Cape’s housing problem, shack by shack

Youths can learn new skills and earn money at The Shackbuilder training institute, where how to build a shack is on the curriculum

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…