South African executive to lead global industry body

South African executive to lead global industry body

In a major vote of confidence for the South African fishing industry, Felix Ratheb has been elected chairman of the International Groundfish Forum, a highly influential industry body that tracks the global fishery for groundfish, a term used to describe fishes that live on or near the seabed.

Some of the best-known examples of groundfish are cod, pollock, flounder, halibut, sole and hake.

Ratheb is Chief Executive of Sea Harvest, a former chairman of SADSTIA, and the first African to be elected Chairman of the Groundfish Forum.

“The South African fishery for hake is small in global terms, but the fishing companies active in the fishery have got a very good reputation, so it’s fantastic there is a South African leading the Groundfish Forum,” he says.

Ratheb believes his election is a signal from the Groundfish Forum that South Africa is doing a good job in managing its groundfish resources.

“The government has embraced the Marine Stewardship Council certification of the trawl fishery for hake and the companies in the fishery punch way above their weight in terms of beneficiation, the types of products they make for the market, and the fact that they have traceability and sustainability systems in place,” he says.  

The annual Groundfish Forum attracts 300 seafood executives from all over the world to discuss trends in the supply and distribution of groundfish, as well as consumer behaviour and demand dynamics. Ratheb attended his first Groundfish Forum in Portugal in 2006 and was elected to the seven-member Executive Committee in 2016. His selection as Chairman took place at the 2023 meeting which was held in Athens, Greece from 17 to 19 October.

Ratheb’s election came as a surprise to him and he is heartened by the recognition his peers in the global seafood industry have shown him.

The global outlook for groundfish is positive, with the Groundfish Forum predicting the supply of wild-caught groundfish will remain steady at around 7.042 million tons in 2024.

Another significant accomplishment for the South African hake fishing industry is the appointment of Madoda Khumalo to the Stakeholder Council of the Marine Stewardship Council. Khumalo is Strategic Services Director at Sea Harvest.

The MSC Stakeholder Council is an advisory body that provides the MSC with advice, recommendations and informed opinions on the certification body’s fishery and chain of custody standards and their implementation through the MSC programme. Its members reflect a broad range of geographies and spheres of interest and, as such, can offer diverse perspectives on the MSC’s operations. It is also a formal channel through which all stakeholders − whether members of the Stakeholder Council or not − can provide their views to the MSC.

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