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.
The vertically integrated approach of Seaflower Pelagic Processing (Pty) Ltd. to the way fish will be caught processed and sold is set to dramatically change the industry landscape as well as the way in which business is conducted with this precious Namibian resource.
The fact that all the possible boxes were ticked with regards to the newly implemented rules and regulations of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources that will henceforth govern the entire Namibian fishing industry meant that the company received about one seventh of the total allowable catch of the entire horse mackerel quota of 349 000 tonnes for the fishing season that officially opened on the first day of January 2019. The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources guaranteed the company 50 00 tonnes of the pelagic fish species for the next 15 years in a notice published in the Government Gazette of 15 May 2017.
Unlike other fish processing factories that are often owned by international or foreign companies and operated at sea, the new processing facilities that rose out of the ground in the Walvis Bay fishing harbour over the past year and half, has the built-in capacity to produce frozen horse mackerel in various different formats that is custom designed for the local and markets beyond Namibia’s borders.
According to Adolf Burger, Managing Director of the African Selection Fishing Namibia company who holds a 60 percent share in Seaflower Pelagic Processing, the new factory is currently the largest frozen pelagic fish processing plant in Sub-Saharan Africa and will make use of several new technological and environmentally friendly innovations never before seen on Namibian shores when catches are processed.
“At full capacity the new factory will need about one and a half times the total electricity consumed in Walvis Bay so we had to make use of innovative new technology to not only mitigate costs but 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 the new vessels we acquired from Norway will use sea water which is also a first for Namibia.”
Burger said because every part of the fish processing will 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.
“Whole fish will be frozen and packed in different sized and weight formats for the great variety of customers and markets. We have the capacity to freeze each fish individually and pack it in different sized bags for consumers in shops. The fish can also be frozen in different sized and weighted boxes for larger consumers.”
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 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.
The entire factory complex will employ 420 people and consists of ten packing lines with a capacity of six tonnes per hour each. Ten new blast freezers with a capacity of 60 tonnes of packaged fish each will be used to freeze the processed catches before it will be taken to a planned new cold storage facility for eventual sale.
Seaflower also purchased the majority share in two modern fishing vessels from Norway at a cost of about N$236 million. The vessels are scheduled to be flagged in Namibia which will add to the production of fish in the new facility because several current and prospective right and quota holders have already approached the company to form joint ventures in landing, processing and even marketing and selling catches.
Seaflower Pelagic Processing (Pty) Ltd. Consists of a 40 percent shareholding by the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) and African Selection Fishing Namibia holds 60 percent of the shares. African selection Fishing Namibia has 95 percent Namibian shareholding. Most of the company’s foreign shareholding is vested in the two new fishing vessels.
According to Burger the new mega fish factory was planned and constructed within its allotted budget and represents a direct investment of N$530 million in the industry and the Namibian Economy.
“The acquisition of the two new vessels represents a further investment of N$236 million. The subsequent acquisition of more land and the eventual construction of a new cold storage facility next to the new processing plant during the second phase of development will bring the total investment in the Namibian fishing industry very close to one billion Namibian Dollars,” Burger stated.
The new processing plant is scheduled to start production in the second week of this month.