This statement was issued by Oceana Group Ltd this afternoon. The Competition Commission had earlier announced that it had concluded a settlement with Oceana settling a number of price fixing and market allocation contraventions within the pelagic (pilchard and anchovy) fishing sector. In terms of the settlement, Oceana admitted that Oceana Brands, Foodcorp, Premier Fishing SA, Gaansbaai Marine, Terressan Pelagic Fishing, Paternoster Visserye, Pioneer Fishing and Saladanha Foods, as members of the South African Pelagic Fish Processors Association (SAPFPA), agreed to fix prices paid to vessel owners/operators, skippers and crew for the service of catching pelagic fish.
[Cape Town, 09 May 2012] Following an investigation into the small pelagic fishery by the Competition Commission, Oceana Group Limited and its subsidiary Oceana Brands Limited have accepted responsibility for certain contraventions of the Competition Act. Accordingly, Oceana has agreed to pay an administrative penalty amounting to R34.75 million representing 5% of its affected turnover derived from its pelagic fishing operations in South Africa in the 2010 financial year. This is in full and final settlement and is subject to confirmation by the Competition Tribunal.
Oceana Group CEO, Francois Kuttel, said, “Oceana has co-operated fully with the Commission during its investigation and while we deeply regret the Commission’s findings, we acknowledge that this occurred, with the exception of the Sea Harvest matter.
“The bulk of the penalty relates to open negotiations which were in place for the purposes of compensating skippers, crew, and some private boat owners in the small pelagic fishery for over four decades. While it was technically a contravention of the Competition Act, we believed this activity was covered by the exemption relating to collective bargaining.
“The remaining infringements were technical in nature and in certain cases, never implemented. Most importantly, no harm was done in any way to consumers through any of these infringements.”
Two of the contraventions had ceased two years prior to the Commission's original complaint in July 2008. The others were identified during our compliance audit as contraventions and the conduct in question was immediately discontinued.
Oceana respectfully disagrees with the Commission’s conclusions regarding the effect of the Sea Harvest shareholders’ agreement, given that the company was not even aware that the agreement existed until 2010.
Oceana has implemented a comprehensive ongoing Competition Law compliance programme, consisting of training and education, compliance audits, the introduction of relevant corporate policies and procedures as well as the establishment of appropriate monitoring and reporting mechanisms. Oceana operates responsibly and ethically in strict accordance with the laws of the country and the King III principles of good corporate governance.