Sea Flower Walvis Bay to employ 450

29 May 2020 | Business

Staff Reporter - Sea Flower Pelagic Processing is forging ahead with its planned commissioning of a canning factory at their land-based processing plant in Walvis Bay by the third and fourth quarter of this year.

To achieve this milestone on the road to become the largest onshore processing plant of especially horse mackerel in Sub-Saharan Africa, the company are now recruiting 450 workers for their cannery plant to be trained prior to commissioning.

In a strained economy and in the shadow of labour lay-offs following the outbreak of Covid-19, this is good news for Namibia.

True to the values and aims set out in the 5th National Development Plan (NDP5), these prospective employees will mostly be drawn from previously disadvantaged communities.

The completion of the giant new Seaflower Pelagic Processing land-based fish factory in Walvis Bay at a cost of N$530 million represents the single biggest investment in the Namibian fishing industry in recent history.

Employment

Already more than 655 jobs were created at Sea Flower Pelagic Processing at Walvis Bay, a joint venture between Fishcor and African Selection Fishing (Namibia) (Pty) Ltd. Once the cannery is staffed, more than 1 100 permanent and fixed contract employment opportunities would have been created for the fishing industry.

Sea Flower Pelagic is not to be confused with Sea Flower Lüderitz, which is a separate entity. Whereas government is the shareholder in Fishcor, African Selection is the other shareholder in Sea Flower Pelagic and manages the joint venture.

Africa Selection Namibia, through Sea Flower Pelagic Processing, have already invested more than N$370 million in the JV, with Fishcor contributing the land on which the mega-processing plant was built. Africa Selection's ownership and management is 100% in the hands of Namibians.

Vertically integrated approach

The vertically integrated approach of Sea Flower Pelagic Processing to the way fish are being caught, processed and sold, is already dramatically impacting the local industry, as well as the way in which business is conducted with this precious Namibian resource.

To this end two fishing vessels, the MFV Nordervon and the MFV Steinsund, both with a carrying capacity of 800 mt of pelagic fish, were added to the company fleet and a third is lined up to harvest horse mackerel in Namibian waters.

According to the general manager of Sea Flower Pelagic Processors in Walvis Bay, Adolf Burger, frozen blocks and individually frozen and packed products are finding traction in local, regional and international markets. The next frontier to explore now, is tinned horse mackerel.

"We are constantly testing markets and experience that locally and regionally, pepper and tomato sauce mixes are in demand, while in Europe, brine is more acceptable. But this is a process and our aim is to supply the market with whatever they want.”

Quotas

The ministry of fisheries and marine resources guaranteed the company 50 000 tonnes of the pelagic fish species for 15 years in a notice published in the Government Gazette of 15 May 2017.

Again, in accordance with the vision set out in NDP5, government's aim was to have the country "… by 2022, being a key fisheries and processing hub in the South West Atlantic Ocean through increasing the volume of fish handled, canned or processed in Walvis Bay cumulatively to 40%."

It must then all come together according to NDP5, when a sustainable level of value addition of 70% of all horse mackerel caught in Namibian waters is done locally.

Green giant

According to Burger, the new factory is currently the largest frozen pelagic fish processing plant in Sub-Saharan Africa. It makes use of several new technological and environmentally-friendly innovations never before seen on Namibian shores when catches are processed.

“At full capacity the factory needs about one and a half times the total electricity consumed in Walvis Bay, so we had to make use of innovative new technology to ensure savings on electricity consumption.

“The same goes for fresh water consumption and that is why many of our systems, both on land in the factory and on the new vessels we acquired from Norway, use sea water, which is also a first for Namibia.”

Burger said because every part of the fish processing will finally be done on land in the processing facility that covers 14 000 square metres under its roof, all parts of the catch will be utilised to minimise wastage.

He said the fish cutlets, heads and broken fish that are not fit for packaging and freezing will be used to make fish oil and fish meal in a modern plant that was designed to emit minimal smoke, odour and steam.

The smaller fish and cutlets will be canned in the ultra modern cannery and several new ways to present the canned fish to the consumer is already in development.

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