About the Viking Fishing Division
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. Nico 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 Nico 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 Nico’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 the Viking Fishing Division today.
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 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, and the company quickly turned its attention to the issue of sustainability. In 2009, the company 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 Aquaculture, the company diversified into fish farming. It invested in abalone, finfish, mussel and oyster farms in Namibia and South Africa and embarked on a period of phenomenal growth, becoming one of the largest, diversified aquaculture producers in the region.
In 2018, a consortium of broad-based black economic empowerment investors led by Sea Harvest purchased Viking Fishing and 51 percent of Viking Aquaculture. On 2 July 2018, Viking Fishing employees were absorbed into the Sea Harvest Corporation and Viking Fishing became a division of Sea Harvest.