Investment is the key to success

With a small quota and a strong drive to participate fully in the catching, processing and sale of Cape hake, Celeste Diest has built Impala Fishing into a highly regarded trawling business.

Ask Celeste Diest how she got her start in fishing and she will tell you about running errands for her father, Harry Cottle, a “coloured” entrepreneur who through sheer determination established a fishing business during apartheid.

“I had to go and buy the supplies for the vessel,” recalls Celeste. “When they were doing (safety) surveys and things like that, I had to go and order the paint. Those were the kind of things I had to do: shore skippering, paying the crew. That’s was how I started out, by doing the little things.”

Celeste’s reminiscences are tinged with sadness because she learnt about fishing by working closely with her father and it was his sudden and unexpected death in 2002 that propelled her into a role of immense responsibility.

“It wasn’t easy to step into his shoes, but there was no other way,” she reflects. “You just have to pick yourself up and do what you have to do; it wasn’t just our family’s livelihood at stake, there were 40 other people working for us and their families also had to survive”.

Those who are familiar with the growth and success of Impala Fishing will know that Celeste has done more than simply survive in the fishing industry. With the help of her family, she has grown Impala Fishing into an admired company. This is even more remarkable when one considers that Impala Fishing holds only a small quota in the capital-intensive hake deep-sea trawl (HDST) fishery.

Without a viable quota, Celeste had no choice but to enter into a joint venture with three other small rights holders. However, the joint venture proved less than satisfactory because the catching, processing and marketing of Impala Fishing’s hake quota took place at arm’s length.

“I always wanted to have more participation in the trawl fishery,” says Celeste. “We had lots of participation in the small pelagic fishery – we own our own vessels there too – but in our previous joint venture, we didn’t participate enough in the running of the company.”

The turning point came in 2008 when Impala Fishing and two other small rights holders purchased a fresh fish trawler in Namibia. Impala Fishing owns a 50% stake in the 28.2m, 2 621 GRT wetfish trawler Okombahe and the company takes responsibility for the administration of the vessel; the partners in the vessel owning company manage vessel maintenance and crewing.

“Taking the decision to purchase the vessel was something I did on my own. All the other vessels were purchased while my dad was alive. It was quite a big step,” she says. Ownership of Okombahe has facilitated Impala Fishing’s complete and meaningful participation in the HDST fishery.

Asked about the challenges facing small rights holders in the HDST fishery – one of the most industrial fisheries in South Africa – Diest answers that it is having to be dependent on other rights holders. Impala Fishing and other small fishing companies do not have sufficient scale to invest in shore facilities and infrastructure. This means they have to depend on larger fishing companies to conduct rudimentary operations, such as discharging a vessel or taking on ice.

Both Celeste’s children, Natasha and Kurt Diest, work in the family fishing business and over the years Celeste has become more comfortable with her role as Chief Executive of Impala Fishing.

“There are challenges every day so you’re never in a comfort zone where you can relax, but I’m more confident doing what I do,” she says.

Asked about her hopes for Impala Fishing in the rights allocation process scheduled for 2021, Celeste answers simply:

“I hope that our investment and meaningful participation counts for something.”

Fishing industry demonstrates strong support for world-renowned professor

Emeritus Professor Doug Butterworth of the University of Cape Town receives the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, from the Ambassador of Japan to South Africa, Mr Norio Maruyama.

Members of the local fishing industry turned out in their numbers on Wednesday evening to honour fisheries scientist Emeritus Professor Doug Butterworth who was presented with an esteemed award by the Ambassador of Japan to South Africa, Mr Norio Maruyama.

Professor Butterworth, who has previously received South Africa’s highest National Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) for contributions to the betterment of the environment and sustainability of fisheries, was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. The award was conferred on behalf of the Emperor of Japan and was in recognition of Butterworth’s contribution to ensuring the sustainable use of marine living resources by Japan, in particular southern bluefin tuna, one of the world’s most valuable fisheries.

“Our fishery is extremely fortunate to have benefited from Professor Butterworth’s expertise,” said Terence Brown, chairman of the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association. “He played a leading role in the development of the scientific method that underlies the management of the hake fishery. As a result, our stocks are healthy and our fishery is recognised worldwide as sustainable and well-managed.”

The deep-sea trawl fishery for hake is by far South Africa’s most valuable fishery, delivering an estimated R6.7 billion to the economy each year. It is also the only fishery in Africa to be certified as sustainable and well-managed by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the world’s leading certification and ecolabelling program for sustainable wild-caught seafood.

“Without the scientific expertise of Prof Butterworth and his colleagues at the University of Cape Town’s Marine Resource Assessment and Management Group (MARAM) and the long-standing commitment of the South African government, we would not have been able to secure and retain MSC certification,” said Brown.

Based on the scientific recommendations of its own scientific personnel – backed up by the specialists within MARAM – the Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries sets annual catch limits for the deep-sea trawl fishery. It also ensures that the fishery is properly monitored and controlled by conducting frequent checks on fishing activities, both at sea and in port.

“We congratulate Professor Butterworth on the receipt of this prestigious award from the Emperor of Japan,” said Brown. “His advice on fisheries is sought by fisheries around the world and we are appreciative of the role he has played in securing the international competitiveness and success of the deep-sea trawl fishery for hake.”

Deep-sea trawling industry welcomes the postponement of the allocation of long-term rights

The South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA) has welcomed the publication of a Government Gazette which effectively suspends the Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) that would have culminated in the allocation of long-term rights across 12 commercial fisheries by December 2020.

The Government Gazette was published on Friday 2 August 2019 by Barbara Creecy, Minister of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries.

“SADSTIA is very encouraged that Minister Barbara Creecy has heard the genuine concerns of the fishing industry around FRAP 2020 and has acted to review the entire process,” said Terence Brown, chairman of SADSTIA.

“We are committed to working with Minister Creecy and her department to ensure that the process for allocating long-term fishing rights is rigorous and transparent and safeguards the sustainability and competitiveness the fishing industry.”

SADSTIA represents the 33 rights holders in the hake deep-sea trawl fishery which is by far South Africa’s most valuable fishery, delivering R6.7 billion to the economy each year and sustaining approximately 7 300 good jobs with regular wages and employee benefits.

The Association believes that a delayed FRAP will allow the Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries to conduct a comprehensive socio-economic study of the 12 fisheries that will be impacted by the allocation of rights. Such a study will clarify the impact that allocations policy will have on investment in these fisheries, the jobs they create and sustain, and their global competitiveness. It will also allow the Department to quantify the significant transformation that has taken place in the fishing industry since 2005, when long-term rights were last allocated.

SADSTIA has also welcomed the call by Minister Creecy for nominations for individuals to serve on the Consultative Advisory Forum (CAF), a committee that should play an essential role in the management of fisheries in South Africa, but which has not been constituted since 2002. According to the Marine Living Resources Act (1998), the membership of the CAF should be broadly representative and multidisciplinary and it should advise the Minister on, inter alia, the management and development of the fishing industry, fisheries legislation, fisheries research and the allocation of money from the Marine Living Resources Fund.

The Minister has called for nominations to the CAF to be made by 30 August 2019.


8 August 2019
For more information, please contact:
Terence Brown, chairman of SADSTIA: or 082 044 0054
Claire Ward, SADSTIA communications: or 083 290 7995


SADSTIA represents the 33 rights holders active in the hake deep-sea trawl fishery, the only fishery in Africa to be certified as sustainable and well-managed by the Marine Stewardship Council .

The hake deep-sea trawl fishery is an industrial-scale fishery. It does not overlap with small-scale fisheries, nor does it compete for resources with small-scale fishers. The fishery targets hake in deep, offshore waters that are inaccessible to small boats.

Minister Barbara Creecy’s speech to the Fisheries Stakeholder Forum meeting, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

Good evening. Thank you very much for coming this evening. I know that many of you have traveled from far, when you leave here you’ve got a long way to go and this meeting hasn’t been short. So thank you very much for your time, thank you for your patience, it’s not something that we take for granted.

When myself and the Deputy Minister (Makhotso Sotyu, MP) took a decision to convene this meeting this evening, I got a lot of phone calls. People said to me “you’re mad, you’re going into a very rough situation”. So I said “well I’m sure if we go there and we say that we want to hear what the problem is, people can’t be rough”. Because if you have a problem, you need those of us who have been elected to serve the public, to come and listen to what the public is saying is a problem. So that’s why we came, because I think that we are very clear – myself and the Deputy Minister – that our job is to serve you. It’s not your job to serve us. And that’s what the short five years while we are in this Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries, that is going to be the culture of the organisation. The organisation must serve you, you must not be serving the organisation.

So, we’ve heard a lot tonight, about how you feel outside of the industry that you want to be part of. How you feel separated from those natural resources that you feel you should have ownership of. And I think that if you listened to our President when he spoke at his inauguration, and no doubt if some of you listen to our President when he speaks tomorrow night [State of the Nation Address, 20 June 2019], you will hear him talk about the fact that we have to grow our economy, but we also have to make our economy more inclusive. And that means that those who feel outside of it, have to find a way that can come into it. So, we understand in listening to you, that there are different interests and groups within the fishing sector. We understand that there are big companies and medium sized companies and small companies. And we understand that there are also individuals who feel that somehow they have fallen out of the net. And we understand that in solving the problems of the different sectors of the industry, it’s not going to be a one-size fits all approach. We understand that. And I think tonight we’ve heard a lot about the frustrations of some of the small players and we’ve heard an appeal from the small players to the bigger players that, “we don’t want to have to bash down this door, we’d like you to open it”. I’m sure the big players also have something to say about how they think they can open that door, and how they think they can grow this industry so that everybody can benefit. And I want to suggest, because time is always the most difficult and the most precious commodity, I want to suggest that those of you who want to add specific things to tonight’s engagement, let me give you my email address:

And what I’m asking you to do there is – if you want to write to me, tell me specifics about your sector. Because it’s not realistic that myself and the Deputy Minister in the near future are going to meet with 11 sectors of one federation. Unfortunately, time is not permitting that because we have to take decisions and we have to take them quickly.

So, it seems to me from listening to you, that FRAP 2020 is a problem. Am I right? And when I was listening to you, a question that was going through my mind – and I’m just asking you for your advice here – should I press the pause button on FRAP 2020? [Loud applause.] Remember, you’re just giving me advice, I’m just asking.

Yesterday, as you’ve heard our Deputy Minister (say), we did meet with the Department and I’ve heard all your criticisms of the Department. The Department was very self-critical of themselves yesterday. You should know that. They were very self-critical. They gave us a presentation. It was a very honest presentation. You would be shocked by how honest it was. And, what I said to them is that we would want to take a bit of time to assess the problems there that are leading to a lack of research, problems around allocation, problems around lack of monitoring, problems around collections. I think that there’s a recognition from colleagues within the Department that things could work a lot better than it’s working. And obviously it’s easy for a Minister and a Deputy Minister to come here for two-and-a-half hours, but if we want to get the system to work properly, we’ve got to take a little bit of time to understand what is causing the problems and how do we fix it. So that’s the second thing I want to ask your advice on. Should we take that little bit of time to understand the problems in the Department so we can fix them from the root? [Loud applause.]

I’ll tell you something about myself. When I commit to doing something, I do it. I’ve been in government for a long time. I think you’ve been disappointed, you don’t need to be disappointed anymore.

Now, in Gauteng, which is where I come from, we introduced something in the allocation of government tenders, it was called the “open tender process”. And what we did, was that when we made the decision about who should be allocated a tender, we invited all the competing companies to come there and to sit there – they couldn’t participate in the discussion, but they could watch the discussion. We did it in public. When we introduced it, people said “you’re crazy, you’re going to be in court every day.” Well, we issued 82 tenders through that process worth something like R75 billion and we weren’t in court on one day, because everybody saw what happened and who got what and why. I think the only way we’re going to solve this quota issue in the fishing industry, and the licensing issue in the fishing industry is we’re going to have to make those decisions in public. [Loud applause.] It’s got to be open and it’s got to be in public. Because when things are secret, even if something is not wrong, we all think it’s wrong. We all think somebody’s brother or sister, or, you know. So that’s why I think we’ve got to hit the pause button on FRAP 202O. Because if it’s going to be determining your livelihoods, all of you, in one way or another for the next seven or eight years, we should have a proper process. That you don’t spend the next seven or eight years questioning that process. I know some licenses are for longer than others. So, that is something that I think we would want to look at.

We have got to sort out the issue of research. Why do we have to sort out the issue of research? Because, when you make decisions, you must make decisions on the basis of evidence, not on the basis of prejudice. At least, I have to make decisions on the basis of evidence, not on the basis of prejudice. And I think that what we all understand is when we’re talking about protecting our natural resources, we’re not talking about protecting them for some people, somewhere; we’re talking about making sure that our children and our grandchildren still can find fish in the sea. Because there are seas in the world where there are no fish anymore. So that’s something that we need proper objective, scientific evidence. And again, that evidence must be available for all of you. I agree that we can’t just centralise the process of issuing licenses here, in Cape Town. Because one understands that we’ve got 3 000 kilometres of coast and that we are going to have to find a way that people in all other different parts can be part of it. When we talk about inclusion, bringing those who feel left out, in, it’s no good giving you a permit but you have no other means of support. We have to look at how do we build new businesses and new industries. Because if you don’t do that, all you’re doing is saying to people is “you can do this” but truth be told, you won’t be able to. So we’ve got to look at what they call the “value chain”. What are the things that will enable you to use that, and how will we help you to build that capacity? I agree with you. You can’t use experience as the basis for exclusion, as a basis to say “no you can’t come in”. What you’ve got to say is “how do you enable newcomers to come in? But let’s also agree that there are not enough fish in the sea for everybody who wants to fish. And that is where this issue of aquaculture comes in. And there are many fishing nations where aquaculture is huge. It’s very small here at the moment. But it’s something that we have to look at to see how do we develop fish. Because this issue of food security is very important. It’s a very important protein source and we’ve got to make it available to more people. I also think the point that was made here about the small harbours is a very important point. Because again, not everybody will be able to be fishing or in aquaculture. But what else can these communities do? And so, we have to look at how do we create other opportunities. Whether it’s in tourism, whether it’s in boat building or any other kinds of activities.

So colleagues, what I want to suggest is that you have helped us a lot this evening. You have helped myself and the Deputy Minister to get some understanding of some of the problems of the sector. I understand that there are other problems that have not come out tonight and that’s why I’ve given you my email address so that you can add more information about other kinds of problems. But the suggestion I think we’d want to make is that we need to come up with a comprehensive plan to repair some of the problems and the capacity problems in the Department and we also need to come up with a more comprehensive plan as to how we are going to make the allocation of the licenses an open and transparent process that all of you in your different categories can benefit from.

So, on that note, I want to thank you once again for being with us. I want to thank you for your advice and I want to say that I hope tonight is the beginning of a partnership. Not just a once-off. Okay, it’s not a one-night stand, alright? It’s the beginning of a partnership and a partnership that should actually help us to help us to repair the damage in the Department, but more importantly repair the industry so that all of us can prosper from this industry.

Thank you for coming. Thank you for listening.

SADSTIA announces expanded graduate internship programme

The South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA) has partnered with the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) to expand the Association’s graduate internship programme, enabling it to provide paid, structured internships for 20 young South Africans in 2019.

The first phase of the SADSTIA internship programme was initiated in April this year when eight graduates were placed at SADSTIA member companies and the Fisheries Branch of the Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries (formerly the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries). These interns are paid a stipend by SADSTIA and managed by WWF through the organisation’s highly successful Graduate Internship Programme.

A further 12 internships were made possible when SADSTIA secured the necessary funding from the TETA.

“We are very excited to have created 12 more opportunities for new graduates,” said Terence Brown, chairman of SADSTIA.

“Over the past decade, SADSTIA members have collaborated very successfully with the TETA. This collaboration enabled the industry to provide paid and structured learnerships to thousands of job seekers. The new partnership takes us in a new direction, but with the same objective – to work together to address youth unemployment.”

The 12 new SADSTIA interns will be placed at SADSTIA member companies and the offices of SADSTIA and its umbrella fishing industry association, FishSA. The interns are newly graduated with a wide variety of qualifications, from human resources to environmental science.