In 1990 and against all odds, a very experienced skipper named Ricky Donaggi managed to get a foothold in the exclusive industry of Pelagic fishing – based on the legal advice that the fish caught by a fisherman belong to the fisherman until it is sold. A Co-operative was formed and a quota was applied for; a bank agreed to help finance a boat and the Weskus Vissers Koöperasie became a legal and committed player in the Pelagic Industry on the West Coast of South Africa.
In 1970, arriving from Walvis Bay, Ricky Donaggi began working in Saldanha Bay and started to explore a solution to the realities that pelagic fishers had no personal accident fund, pension fund, medical nor death coverage.
He took the challenge to John Wiley, the then Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Fisheries, who suggested that they organise an association for Pelagic Fishers to assist them with the above requirements. This was a complex challenge as it needed funds and capital in an industry that had a record of neglecting the fishing crews on the boats for almost 40 years.
So in the mid-eighties, Ricky and John Wiley came up with a solution: The funds to protect the fishers and their communities had to come out of the sea.
In line with this plan, The Association was awarded a quota and as a legal Rights Owner, they were allowed to enlist the efforts of other boat owners to harvest their quota on their behalf and through this mechanism, the Pension Fund associated with the Co-operative had a source of income to pay its benefits to retired pelagic fishers – from the proceeds of the catch.