An open-hearted interview with the managing director of Afro Fishing, Deon van Zyl, regarding the company's plans to add a fish meal and oil manufacturing plant to its existing sardine cannery on Quay 1, left us with more questions than definite answers . . . and way too much vagueness, variables and "if's" to put concerned residents at ease.
Seasonal workers at work in Afro Fishing's impressive sardine canning outlet on Quay 1. The company currently employs 340 staff when they are running two shifts. The R350 M expansion is expected to create a mere 160 additional jobs.
Deliberate avoidance of questions regarding the company's shareholders and funders, as well as uncertainties regarding the recruitment and Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for pelagic species such as anchovy and red-eye herring; transport of the product (by road or ship) and the few additional seasonal jobs (around 160) that the R350 M project is supposed to create, rather bolster than alleviate persistent public concern that the environmental risks outweigh the benefits by far . . . and that the fish meal plant may just be a stepping stone towards a full-fledged open sea aquaculture enterprise with finfish (yellowtail) in Mossel Bay's waters - similar to the pilot project in Saldanha Bay which residents have been fighting with costly legal battles for the past 2 years.
The action group Save Langebaan Lagoon has been raising funds tirelessly since 2017 for their ongoing legal battle to protect the lagoon - a world-renowned Ramsar site - against the impact of aquaculture experiments in Saldanha Bay. https://www.change.org/p/daff-save-langebaan-lagoon-from-a-potential-aquaculture-disaster?use_react=false
Van Zyl refrained from answering our direct question who Afro Fishing's directors and shareholders are. He was only prepared to say there are "two SA directors and that they have extensive fishing industry experience plus they own freezing facilities, fish meal plants, fishing vessels and canneries in Angola and Namibia." * Link to interview at bottom.
Mosselbayontheline discovered that Shamera Daniels, a well-known figure in the fishing industry, is the only former director who remained on board after the company changed hands and the other five directors resigned last year.
Shamera Daniels is also the owner/founder of SDB Consulting in Cape Town since 2006 and a director of a whopping 15 companies. * More at the bottom
Johannes Augustinus Breed is the only new director that was appointed. Breed, a chartered accountant, is also the managing director of the Angolan-based company African Selection Trust (AST) with strong ties in Namibia. When we mentioned that the SA economist Adriaan J. Louw is Afro Fishing's Namibian and Angolan shareholder, Van Zyl objected that we publish it in our Q & A article as he never said it.
However, some research revealed that AST has a 60% share in the Namibian company Seaflower Pelagic Procession (Pty).Ltd. and AST is represented on Seaflower Pelagic's board of directors by both Breed and Louw, as well as an attorney Marén de Klerk.
Furthermore, Breed's direct involvement in AST's operations in both Angola and Namibia automatically raises the question whether AST is also the investor behind Afro Fishing's R350 M planned fish meal and oil industry in Mossel Bay.
Afro Fishing's managing director Deon van Zyl at the sardine canning plant on Quay 1.
An in-depth article in Maroela Media further revealed the involvement of Afro Fishing director Johannes Breed (37) with eight fishing companies in South Africa and his father's long-time involvement in aquaculture operations in Angola.
AST was recently indirectly accused of benefitting from the allocation of a 15-year fishing quota worth R120 M per year to the Namibian state-owned Fishcor at the cost of local companies who were well-qualified to partner Fishcor. This allegedly resulted in the closing down of Bidvest Namibia and 1 200 local people losing their jobs.
However, according to the article in Maroela Media, Van Zyl denied that Afro Fishing is an affiliate of AST and was only prepared to say that Afro Fishing's funding was privately obtained from a foreign investor.
This secrecy, and the fact that Breed's father, Jannie, was for many years involved in the shrimp aquaculture business in Angola as managing director of Ridge Solutions Aquaculture, raises more red flags as to what Afro Fishing's longterm plans in Mossel Bay truly entails and what companies are behind it.
Delay in Fishing Rights Allocation Process as new minister probes industry
Ironically, the intricate labyrinth of favoured cliques, cronyism and abuse of political connections that characterize the fishing industry, is currently under scrutiny in South Africa following the postponement of the fishing rights allocation process (Frap) by the recently appointed minister of environment, forestry & fisheries Barbara Creecy.
Creecy's decision is expected to delay the process by 18 months to 2 years in order for her to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of the industry.
New rights were supposed to be awarded by the start of 2021, and were expected to rebalance fishing quota allocations to empower community-based and small black-owned enterprises. The rights were last awarded to the market’s long-standing heavyweights in 2005.
"The proposed delay to give the new minister time to evaluate the process and engage presumably with stakeholders in the R5bn sector will be welcomed by the ‘big three’ [Oceana, Sea Harvest and I&J] … taking some pressure off them and their earnings. However, the news will not be welcomed by the black-owned smaller listed Premier Fishing and unlisted players, which hoped to score big from the Frap 2020 exercise."
Public Participation Process - No Feedback?
Since the announcement of Afro Fishing's application to expand its business in an unobtrusive municipal notice in the local community paper in February this year, and the short notice to register as interested and affected parties (I&AP's) in a public participation process, no feedback has been given by the environmental consultants Cape EAPrac.
The public had to register as I&AP's by 25 March 2019 by sending an email or fax to Melissa Mackay. More than 415 people also signed an online petition to object against the fish meal plant and almost 400 supported the petition. This data was also sent to the consultants.
Mosselbayontheline asked Mackay the following questions regarding feedback:
1. Q: Following the short notice/deadline for registering as an I&AP in order to comment on the above application before the end of March 2019, we would like to know how many people registered for the public participation process and when some feedback can be expected.
1. A: As per the section “Stakeholder Engagement” in the BID, the dates provided form the initial public participation for stakeholders to comment and register as part of the process. People are able to register at any time if they missed the initial call for registration up until the point that the final reports are submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning (DEA&DP). There will be additional opportunities for stakeholders to comment on reports as they are made available, as indicated in the BID. Ensuring that stakeholders are registered means that we are able to direct the reports to the correct people, when the reports are ready to be published. During the initial period, 134 stakeholders registered. Feedback will be provided to all registered I&APs with the availability of the Draft Basic Assessment Report (DBAR). We have been waiting for the various specialists to finalise their studies and reports and we are expecting the DBAR to be available in August, date to be confirmed.
2. Q: What was the outcome of the public poll and what role will that play in the final decision - and by whom?
2. A: Various aspects were raised during the initial public participation, these include concern regarding air quality, traffic, impacts on local business and tourism. All comments will be submitted to the DEA&DP, along with the responses and the specialists' studies that were generated from these concerns. The DEA&DP will take a decision on the Environmental Impact Assessment once the process is completed (after the next round of public participation). As outlined in the BID, the report that goes to the DEA&DP will have gone through an additional period of stakeholder review prior to submission.
3. Q: The public's main concern is that their input/objections are basically dismissed and that these public participation processes are just a ruse to pacify/fool the public when the final decision has already been made . . . ?
3. A: This is not the case at all, as mentioned previously, the input from the public was very important in that it guided the project team to focus on specific areas of concern and led to additional investigations being obtained. I must point out here, that the public concerns confirmed the need to send a Task Team to Peniche and Tarifa to investigate operational plants first hand given that the technology is not used for fishmeal anywhere in SA. Given the sensitivity of this proposal, neither the specialists nor this office felt that relying solely on drawings and marketing material would suffice. This allowed the specialist air quality engineer an opportunity to fully inspect and query operational technology, with the concerns by the public and the officials foremost in mind. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process is still only in its beginning phase, in that the specialist investigations are being finalised and a Draft Basic Assessment Report (DBAR) is being drafted. This will be made available to all registered I&APs for further review and to show stakeholders how their concerns have been attended to and addressed. The decision has not been made and can only be taken, once the DEA&DP has all the information, including the outcome of the public participation before them.
4. Q: What happened to the public's input and comments and what was the outcome? The lack of feedback and transparency from authorities in these matters is of great concern to the public/ratepayers who increasingly feel they have NO say any more in matters that directly affect their livelihood in the town they chose to live in.
4. A: The public input has been collated and will be included with the DBAR once the final specialist reports have been received. The National Environmental Management Act and the 2014 EIA Regulations are very clear on the involvement of Interested & Affected Parties and all comments will be provided to the decision making authorities who have to consider them along with the specialist investigations. The public input has played an important role in the approach and focus that all members of the project team are applying to this application.
5. Q: The overall impact and risks associated with an additional fish meal plant to a tourist destination in the smallest working harbour in the country are HUGE compared to the few additional shiftwork jobs (160?) it is supposed to create and furthermore the success of the entire operation depends on so many conditions/suppositions that it is quite scary . . . the recruitment and total allowable catch (TAC) of specific pelagic species; the enlargement of the harbour for import/export purposes (which may never happen); the first-time use of RTO technology in SA to combat odour, etc.
There are so many RISKS and IFS involved compared to the few potential jobs created that the public fears Mossel Bay is being steered into another ecological disaster by greedy politicians as have happened in so many coastal towns already . . .
5. A: Your statement requires a complex response and I would ask you to please be a little patient in that the Draft BAR, which will be released to the public for review and comment in August will unpack and address these issues. To respond now without having received the final specialist studies would be reckless and would undermine the principles of the environmental process.
SDB Consulting is a company founded by Shamera Daniels in 2006. SDB is 100% black female-owned and managed and is based in Cape Town.
Shamera Daniels earned a Diploma in Marketing Management from the Institute of Marketing
Management at the Damelin Business School and has a Certificate in Forensic Examination from the
University of the Western Cape.
She has earned her reputation as a successful Project Manager, Process Designer and Fishing Industry Specialist during her time managing the unit responsible for the allocation and verification of commercial fishing rights and the relevant application forms at the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism: Marine and Coastal Management and as The Project Manager of the Rights Verification Unit as a Manager at Deloitte.
She has extensive Policy formulation and review experience, having been part of the team that advised to
two Ministers on environmental and fishing policy. She was on the policy team that drafted the current
fishing and allocations policies of South Africa. Furthermore she was involved in the drafting of the Marine
Living Resources Act and the relevant Regulations.
Specialties: The company has diversified its services to better suite our clients and we offer a full spectrum of services
to enhance their businesses which includes the following:
1. Administrative support
2. Contract negotiation
3. Sourcing suitable business partners
4. Branding and Marketing
5. Graphic design
6. Compliance audits
7. BEE Accreditation
8. SARS Dispute Resolution
10. Debt Management