About Viking Fishing Group
Viking Fishing was founded by Nico Bacon, an entrepreneur who in 1980 turned his back on a corporate career, borrowed the money he needed to buy a deep-sea trawler, and established a trawling venture. Bacon had spent the previous 21 years managing two of the most successful fishing fleets in South Africa and so he was well qualified to build a fishing company of his own. And yet, the odds were stacked against him – at the time, South Africa’s commercial fisheries were completely dominated by large, vertically integrated operations and Bacon would struggle for more than a decade to carve a niche for Viking Fishing. He began by going to sea, spending 10 days of every month on the 42m trawler, Benguella Viking, working side-by-side with his fishing crew. And the moment his vessel docked in Cape Town, he would sell the catch.
As Viking Fishing grew, it became a family business in the true sense of the word. Three of Bacon’s sons joined the business and, before long, customers, suppliers and employees began to build strong ties with the company. Some of the customers who bought a share of the Benguella Viking’s first catch, way back in 1980, are still doing business with Viking Fishing today.
And, 35 years after its establishment, Viking Fishing has grown beyond all recognition: the company has significant interests in South Africa’s trawl fishery for hake, the small pelagic fishery for sardine and anchovy, the west coast rock lobster fishery and the prawn fishery; it owns and operates a fleet of 31 fishing vessels; and maintains an extensive and productive seafood processing facility in the City of Cape Town, and smaller facilities in Mossel Bay and Durban.
Although Viking Fishing is known and respected as a wholesale supplier of fish, the company has established a unique network of factory outlets where ordinary South Africans can purchase a wide selection of fresh and frozen seafood products at reasonable prices. As a result, Viking Fishing is a lynchpin in the Western Cape’s vibrant fish & chip shop culture.
After 1994 and South Africa’s transition to democracy, Viking Fishing was one of the first companies in the fishing industry to restructure its ownership.
In true Viking Fishing form, the partners who were identified and approached to become part of Viking Fishing have largely remained with the company, supporting its endeavours to become a truly South African business.
In 2006, Viking Fishing secured substantial long-term rights in South Africa’s commercial fisheries, a fair reward for Bacon’s vision and his company’s ability to grow and adapt to rapidly changing conditions, both at sea and on shore.
With its long-term future in the South African fishing industry secured, Viking Fishing quickly turned its attention to the issue of sustainability.
In 2009, Viking Fishing joined three other fishing companies and the global conservation organisation, WWF, in a unique venture: the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA).
The RFA strives to consistently improve the environmental performance of the South African fishing industry and has been at the forefront of efforts to reduce interactions between seabirds and fishing gear; better regulate the catch of non-target species; and limit the damage to the seabed caused by trawl gear.
In 2011, with the establishment of Viking Fishing Aquaculture, the company diversified into fish farming. It now holds interests in abalone, finfish, mussel and oyster farms and its aquaculture operations are undergoing a period of phenomenal growth
Viking Fishing’s founder, Nico Bacon, remains the chairman and managing director of the Viking Fishing Group, but he shares responsibility for the company’s fortunes with shareholders, customers and 1250 employees − some of whom have worked with him from the very start of his extraordinary fishing venture.