Marc Hasenfuss Editor-at-large
Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Recently listed fishing group Sea Harvest — which is controlled by empowerment group Brimstone — has cast its net wider in Australia.

On Friday, Sea Harvest announced that its 56%-owned Australian subsidiary Mareterram had secured two mackerel-licence packages. Mareterram, which is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, has also acquired an established fishing fleet and support vessels.

Diversification into mackerel fishing provided scale and a complementary revenue stream to the Mareterram’s existing niches in prawn, scallop and crab fishing, said a spokesman for Sea Harvest, which is primarily a hake-fishing company with a frozen package brand that is a household name in SA.

Sea Harvest, which listed shortly after smaller rival Premier Fishing (PremFish) made its debut in March, has not yet made any local acquisitions. PremFish recently acquired a sizeable Port Elizabeth-based squid fishing business.

PremFish and Sea Harvest have been tipped as contenders to acquire fishing operations – including hake, abalone and an Australian seafood business — that consumer brands conglomerate AVI has under review.

Mareterram’s mackerel deal is valued at A$4.95m (R53m), and will be funded through a combination of debt funding, as well as a placement of new Mareterram shares. Sea Harvest has committed to maintaining its 56% stake in Mareterram through a pro rata participation in the share placement.

In an investment presentation that accompanied the acquisition, Mareterram noted that Spanish mackerel was a premium white fish that was product filleted and snap frozen on board the fishing vessels.

Mackerel fishing licences in Australia are held in perpetuity, unlike SA where catch categories are subject to new allocations at various intervals.

Mareterram said the mackerel operations would be consolidated into a single vessel and the surplus vessels would be sold.

It disclosed that the deal brought on board 30% of Western Australia’s mackerel fishery. The presentation also provided an operational update that noted the 2017 fishing season had seen the prawn catch volume increasing to 830 tonnes.

hasenfussm@fm.co.za

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