Rose Boswell , Sharon Gabie, and Jennalee Goeda

It’s Ash Wednesday, Lent has started so Christian people will commemorate the resurrection of Christ in 40 days from Valentine’s Day 2024.

The Khoe and San people, the indigenous people of South Africa, also known as Coloured people, who are reclaiming their identity feast on fish during this time. I grew up in land, so my fish travelled 700km or more, depending on the nearest coastal town. During the Easter Weekend, fish is prepared in different ways, from pickled fish, to fish cakes, to fish breyani, and types of fish dishes. My mother swore by stock fish to prepare her dishes. So, my palate is attuned to stock fish. I was never introduced to other species of fish.

Fast forward from the days I grew up, to becoming a researcher studying people living in coastal communities and their relationship with the ocean. During my research encounters, I was introduced to eating abalone and visited an abalone farm. I have not yet had limpets; I only know the stories I heard from people about eating limpets. Putting the abalone tasting experience together with the limpet’s story clearly indicates that coastal folk have a palate that is attuned to different aquatic foods. What used to be ‘open access’ in coastal communities has now been closed off by a permit system that prohibits people from eating ‘the spoils’ of the ocean.

Big capitalist companies like I&J, Sea Harvest and Oceana dominate the ocean in their fishing activities. After 75 years of operation in Doringbaai, Oceana closed in 2006, as reported in a Ground Up article and confirmed by anecdotes from research participants. The livelihoods of the people were abruptly cut short. Corporate Social Investment (CSI) was non-existent, leaving people out in the cold. However, in 2013, another lifeline was extended to the community when an Abalone Farm was established. Initially staring with eight workers, it has since grown to employ over 50 workers from the community. During our visit in Doringbaai in 2023, we met Anchen, a young woman from the community, who expressed gratitude for her job, emphasising the abalone farm’s significant contribution to local employment.

According to the Ground Up article, the community holds a 37% stake in the Abalone farm through the Doringbaai Development Trust (Human 2023). The people of this community are ‘woke’ to the extraction of resources and they are no-longer willing to allow companies to operate in their space without a share in that company. Doringbaai serves as an example of what is possible when a company and the community reach an agreement, with beneficiation becoming a part of the company’s CSI strategy when implemented. The communities can grow through such investments, not merely providing jobs but investing in the community.

We met with Deon from Doringbaai, and we interviewed him regarding the abalone farm in the community. He shared a story of how the lobsters migrated and how the government had to provide relief for the fishermen in the community.

“The fishermen got boats from the state and small machines that is still working. The town is a very beautiful town everything started when the factory was built. Over the years the lobsters moved. It moved to the northern side, and it moved further away to the south side, and it moved further away. The biggest job creation is the abalone farm at the moment there are 55 people that is working on the farm. And those people have 55 families to feed. They pack rocks in the ocean and then they make tiles out of it. We also tried to have a lobster factory, but the co-operation did not agree with them in terms of prices. The harbour was rebuilt for the fishermen because they struggled a lot to launch their boats. There was a building build for fishermen where they could store their fish temporarily. There are constantly on-going projects to create jobs for people. In terms of the abalone farm there is something in the pipeline for it to extend to a 120 farm. We only export abalone that is dried. It goes straight to Hong Kong or China. The value is more if it is dead then it is alive. The highest price that you make is when it is dried. I  am in the drying sector and was mentored by someone who was 20 years in Japan. I met him 13 years ago. There is a lot of secrets in the drying process it is not just about drying. The taste must be nice, and it is a very long process. The sea life is not the same it changes constantly.”

So many people in our country are sitting without any job opportunities. It is very beautiful and commendable to see that the people of Doringbaai are constantly creating job opportunities for the people of the coastal town.


Human, L. 2023. Perlemoen farm gives hope to West Coast Community. GroundUp. 24 January 2023. Available at  Accessed on 14 February 2024.

Posted on 25 February 2024 15:30:31

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