Traditionally, the concept of “sustainability” is associated with environmentally friendly practices. However, at HIK we believe that sustainability is much more complex and consists of three overlapping principles: environmental impacts, economic viability and social responsibility. In 2012, HIK was assessed by the Global Impact Investment Rating System (GIIRS) and scored an impressive 3 stars through the review process.
HIK is in the process of assessing all of our activities such that we comply with the following certifications:
- Aquaculture Sterwardship Council (ASC) standards for farmed abalone.
- The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI)
Increasing human pressure on Earth’s fragile environment has heightened consumer awareness of the effects of food production systems on ecosystems. In recent years aquaculture has received much attention as a viable avenue for the replacement of wild caught fish products. However, this activity is not without its challenges. Abalone farming is no different.
Although the perception exists that abalone farming can reduce the pressure on wild abalone populations, this has not been found to be the case as abalone poaching continues, unabated. Abalone farms may play an important role in this tragic situation by serving as a genetic reserve in the event of the complete demise of the natural population. At HIK, abalone are farmed in strict compliance of current environmental legislation and every effort is made to continuously improve the way we farm abalone.
Specific focus areas include:
- Responsible discharge of effluent:
– The only significant way an abalone farm alters the incoming seawater is through organic enrichment (uneaten abalone feed and abalone waste products). This type of effluent loading is considered harmless by the authorities.
– However, HIK routinely monitors the effluent stream for Total Ammonia Nitrogen (TAN) and Total Suspended Solids in order to ensure that levels remain within published limits.
– The effluent may contain insignificant concentrations of cleaning chemicals (such and sodium hypochlorite, hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide) but these don’t pose a significant environmental threat. In addition, only biodegradable soaps are used.
– HIK is situated along a very rough stretch of coast and the effluent is rapidly mixed into the water column very soon after discharge.
- Responsible disposal of waste:
– HIK has a dedicated waste accumulation area.
– All solid, chemical and biological wastes are disposed of responsibly via prescribed municipal or third party routes.
- Disease Risk:
– HIK adheres to a comprehensive on-farm biosecurity protocol based on principles identified by Amanzi Biosecurity, a competent and experienced third party animal health authority. This protocol outlines methods to limit the risk of disease transfer between different farms, and between farms and the environment.
– At HIK, abalone are maintained in stress-free conditions. This practice ensures that our abalone have strong immune systems and remain healthy.
– HIK is part of the Abalone Health Monitoring Program which is managed by Amanzi Biosecurity. Abalone from all sections of the hatchery and the farm are sampled every 2 months and their health status is determined through histological techniques.
- Genetic impacts:
– An added benefit from the biosecurity protocol is that the movement of abalone from farms to the environment is limited, thus reducing the potential genetic impact of escapees on the wild population.
– In addition, HIK is not involved in any form of artificial genetic modification. We are, however, exploring methods to optimise performance of farmed abalone through the use of a carefully planned selective breeding program
- Non-wasteful use of resources:
– Very small quantities of wild harvested kelp is used as feed for broodstock abalone. Kelp is purchased twice a week from the local harvesting rights holders. The kelp harvesting industry is tightly regulated by the authorities in order to ensure sustainable utilisation of a very sensitive resource.
– HIK abalone enjoy a diet consisting of various forms of a specifically formulated artificial feed called Abfeed. This feed is manufactured by a reputable abalone feed manufacturer; Marifeed. Fishmeal in diets is IFFO certified which indicates that the fish protein in the diet has been sourced from a sustainable fishery. When fed under the right conditions, Abfeed results in an efficient Food Conversion Ratio (FCR).
– Electricity is one of HIK’s biggest expenses and is a core focus area. Energy use is recorded in detail and internal audits are routinely conducted. HIK recently participated in a Resource Efficiency Audit which was conducted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). We are currently engaged in phase two of the project with a detailed audit of the following: efficiency of rotating equipment and the feasibility of implementing a solar heating system for seawater.
– Although the freshwater requirement on an abalone farm is minimal, HIK keeps detailed records of its freshwater consumption. We try to make use of seawater for most cleaning processes and freshwater is only used in high disease risk areas (or as specified by our Biosecurity Protocol). A rainwater collecting tank satisfies the majority of our garden watering requirement. Other water-wise processes are being investigated.
HIK is committed to creating a work environment where employees feel nurtured and safe. At HIK, the importance of the individual as well as the collective in all activities is recognised, and special emphasis is placed on creating a company ethos that is fair and empowering but also productive at the same time. By looking after our employees, and also through various small community projects, HIK hopes to make a difference to the broader community.
Specific focus areas:
- Fair and decent remuneration:
– HIK pays a basic wage which is approximately 40% above the minimum wage for agricultural workers.
– Provident fund where HIK contributes 50%.
– Funeral fund where HIK contributes 100%.
– All employees have access to a simple medical aid program.
- Fair and safe work environment:
– HIK Farm Policies and Procedures are based on the provisions in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
– HIK ensures that employees operate in a safe environment though adherence to the provisions in the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHAS). In addition, HIK ensures that all monies owed to the Workmans’ Compensation Fund are fully paid up.
- On farm ABET (Adult Basic Education and Training) centre:
– Employees can further their education in basic subjects such as communication, numeracy and life orientation.
– HIK allows each employee 2 hours per week (at HIK’s cost) to pursue ABET.
– HIK employs ABET facilitators specifically for the ABET program.
- On farm clinic:
– Clinic facilities are available to all employees and their immediate family members.
– Supplies basic over the counter medicines.
– Refers employees to reputable medical practitioners.
– Provides and sources training on topical medical conditions such as HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, TB etc. as well as on basic hygiene and health care.
– HIK employs a qualified and experienced nursing sister.
- Continual training:
– Candidates from all employment levels are continually identified for training potential.
– Job specific training:
Elementary such as bricklaying, secretarial, driver’s license, diving, blasting etc.
Generic such as first-aid, occupational health & safety, biosecurity, general management, workplace skills etc.
Advanced such as aquaculture, directorship, specific accounting etc.
– All training is conducted at the company’s cost.
- Community projects
– Support for local black owned SMME’s.
– Specific sponsorship of educational facilities:
Support for local creches
1. Toys and educational equipment
2. Maintenance jobs
3. Play equipment and other infrastructure
HIK is involved with implementing learnerships for learners at local schools (done in conjunction with AgriSETA)
– HIK extends support for local cricket and soccer sports teams by sponsoring kit and other equipment.
– HIK routinely donates money to various charitable entities.
- Personalised treatment:
– HIK has a committed HR department which is devoted to assisting employees and families with problems like alcohol abuse, drug abuse, crime, debt problems etc.
- Consumer health is protected at all times:
– SAMS Monitoring & Control program, managed by DAFF in conjunction with the competent authority NRCS & with testing conducted by NRCS CSIR.