Oceana reaches out to West Coast fishing communities during lockdown

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Oceana, Africa’s largest fishing company has reached out to vulnerable communities in the Western Cape with the distribution of some 4,800 food parcels, including about 2,000 to small-scale fishers on the West Coast. The food parcels can feed a family of five for two weeks.

Food parcels have been distributed to the SSF sector in the West Coast fishing communities of Lamberts Bay, Laaiplek, Elands Bay, Paternoster, Langebaan, Saldanha, Hopefield, Darling, Vredenburg, Yzerfontein, Mamre, Atlantis, Veldrift and Doringbaai among others.

The balance of the food parcels have been distributed in the Cape Metro and other regions of the Western Cape such as the Overberg.

The relief efforts – in close partnership with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and FishSA - come as Oceana, which produces the iconic Lucky Star brand of canned pilchards, has heeded the call to support all efforts aimed at combating Covid-19 and its impact on people and communities.

Oceana CEO Imraan Soomra said: “As the most empowered food producer on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), Oceana has always been committed to food security in our country. Providing assistance where it is needed the most is at the heart of Oceana.

“We recognise that the national lockdown has affected the income of small-scale fishers who rely on catching fish to provide for their families. We are humbled to have been able to assist our fellow fishermen and countrymen.”

Chairperson of FishSA, Loyiso Phantshwa, hailed Oceana for being at the forefront of relief efforts and said the food parcels had really helped vulnerable communities.

“They did not wait to be requested to contribute,” said Phantshwa. “We found them already on the ground. This has set an example for all companies in the fishing industry who have also opened their hands to assist.”

FishSA is voluntary association of various industry sectoral associations and has been active in leading relief efforts in fishing communities.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on livelihoods as markets have disappeared overnight, notwithstanding various government initiatives to support the SSF industry, including extending permits and fishing seasons.

Suleiman Salie, Managing Director of Lucky Star Operations, added that the task of producing food under strict protocols to ensure the safety of staff and products, as well as providing social relief, had become ever more critical as an increasing number of communities are experiencing food shortages.

“Oceana is a major employer in the coastal communities in which we operate, and we play a key role in supporting the socio-economic conditions in these communities, and remain committed to supporting vulnerable communities.”

Oceana has distributed almost 6,000 food parcels to thousands of staff members who have been working during the lockdown. This gesture has ensured that the families of the group’s employees continue to have food during this period.

Luck Star produces canned pilchards, as well as fishmeal and fishoil, which are critical ingredients for the food sectors that are responsible for poultry, livestock and fish farming.