Cape Hake lauded at Global Whitefish Conference

OCTOBER 15, 2015

Despite its relatively small size, accounting for just 2% of the world’s whitefish production, the South African Hake industry is recognised and respected internationally, the 24th Global Groundfish Forum heard this week.

The two largest companies in the South African Hake industry, I&J and Sea Harvest, pioneered the development of markets for local Hake and as a consequence Cape Hake has gone from being considered a ‘stokvis’ to one of the world’s most sought-after whitefish species.

“Globally consumers know that when they buy South African Hake, they are getting superior quality from a well-managed fishery,” says Sea Harvest chief executive, Felix Ratheb.

He says that as a result, the industry has been able to create sustainable employment in rural areas. This, despite the fact that it operates in highly competitive domestic and international markets, with risky margins subject to the vagaries of nature and currency fluctuations.

The industry’s sustainability practices are also globally recognised. It was the first to achieve the Marine Stewardship Council’s gold standard for sustainability, a certification which Cape Hake has maintained since 2004.

Irvin and Johnson (I&J) CEO, Jonty Jankovich-Besan, says that the Cape Hake was well marketed, sustainably managed and was able to compete on the global stage alongside whitefish products from some 40 countries, including Denmark, Canada, Russia, China and the United States.

The Global Groundfish Forum is held annually and South Africa is only the second country outside Europe and the first in Africa to host the meeting. Established in 1992, it is a non-profit organisation to promote information sharing and understanding within the industry.

The South African speakers selected to address the Forum included Sea Harvest CEO, Felix Ratheb; Oceana Group CEO, Francois Kuttel; Woolworths Foods Managing Director, Spencer Sonn; and University of Cape Town Professor Emeritus, Doug Butterworth.

The keynote speaker at a dinner preceding the forum meeting was Chairman of Brimstone Investment Corporation and Sea Harvest, Fred Robertson.