Fishing South Africa

30 March 2021

Fishing South Africa: What is the Role of Deep-Sea Trawling?

According to the South African Deep Sea Trawling Association (SADSTIA) of which Sea Harvest is an active member, the hake deep-sea trawl fishery industry contributes R6,7 billion per annum to the country’s economy. The deep-sea fishing industry is also a major employer in the Western Cape, with the SADSTIA members employing more than 7200 people.

The industry is a major employer, economic contributor and environmentally responsible industry. Let’s take a closer look at the South African fishing economy.

Significance of employment provision

With consideration of the high unemployment rate outside the major city areas in the Western Cape, the fact that SADSTIA members employ more than 5 200 people on a permanent basis, with an additional 2000 plus people employed on a semi-permanent basis, is significant. The employment opportunities in small towns with the likes of Gansbaai and Mossel Bay help communities in these areas to become and remain economic contributors in the areas where they live and work.

The employees within the deep-sea fishing industry, with specific reference to deep-sea trawling, benefit from reasonable earnings. People working on the trawlers receive on average R20 000 a month, while employees working in the processing sections earn on average at least R10 000 per month. With such salaries, workers in the deep-sea fishing industry of South Africa receive significantly better remuneration than the required minimum wage. View the SADSTIA employment fact-sheet here.

Sea Harvest, as one of the largest employers within the South African fishing industry, is also committed to economic transformation, proven by the fact that the Group is 83% black-owned. Read more about the transformation success of the company.

Deep-sea hake fishing industry – certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The South African deep-sea fishing industry has been re-certified (fourth time), which shows the industry’s commitment to maintaining healthy levels of fish stocks, to ensure availability of fish for future generations and to minimise the impact of deep-sea fishing on the environment.

Sea Harvest is also one of the founding members of the Responsible Fishing Alliance (RFA), committed to responsible fishery practices including the management of the environmental impact of fishing in South Africa. One of the many successful projects in which the company has participated is that of reducing the mortality rate of seabirds through a reduction of interaction between the birds and the trawlers. The initiatives followed have helped to reduce the number of bird deaths by 90%.

Other projects include, but are not limited to the reduction of by-catch, skills improvement within the industry and opposing marine phosphate mine operations in South Africa.

Active role in reducing sea pollution

The major trawling companies in South Africa, such as Sea Harvest, are actively involved in environmental protection. An example is the installation of stormwater drain litter trap systems in Saldanha Bay in 2019. The Sea Harvest Corporation (Pty) Ltd. along with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust played a major role in procuring special netting technologies for trapping the over-flow of water from nearby Hoedtjiesbaai to reduce environmental pollution. This project has been proven successful in limiting night soil, solid waste and other pollutants from causing excessive damage to the sensitive ecosystem of the ocean along the West Coast shoreline in the Western Cape. Read more here.

Healthy food source

The deep-sea fishing industry of South Africa plays an important role in providing for export earnings while also making it possible for South Africans to enjoy from Cape hake to pilchards, prawn and tuna. Deep sea trawling is done several miles from the country’s shore at depths as deep as 800 metres.

Sea Harvest, as one of the leading deep sea trawling companies, has an extensive fleet of fishing and freezer vessels. These include wet fish trawlers along with factory freezers. The Group’s vessels can be found along the coasts of Durban, Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Saldanha Bay and parts of the West Coast.

Apart from the at-sea heading, gutting and packing of caught fish, the company also as on-shore processing plants. With the sophisticated freezer vessels, the fish can be processed at sea. All the ocean freshness can thus be locked in for the best possible products.

Where to get more information

Discover more about the firm’s fishing operations along the coastal areas of South Africa. With an extensive range of high value, but affordable fish products, the Group is also a significant contributor to food security in South Africa.


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Did You Know…
Environmental Sustainability in Fishing Industry
Community Projects by Sea Harvest
Sea Harvest Foundation
SA Fishing Industry
Sea Harvest and Job Creation
Transformation at Sea Harvest