South Africa's Competition Commission has found that seafood firms Pioneer Fishing and Blue Continent Products were involved in anti-competitive practices between 2008 and 2010.

The groups, which supply horse mackerel locally and for export, formed a "cartel" to divide the market for supply of horse mackerel by allocating territories and/or customers, the competition authority concluded. "The parties entered into a suite of agreements relating to the sale and supply of horse mackerel within certain markets, such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West provinces," the Commission said.

The Commission referred the case to the Competition Tribunal with a recommendation that the enforcement body impose an administrative penalty not exceeding 10% of annual turnover of Pioneer. No administrative penalty is sought against BPC as it has been granted conditional leniency.

The Commission found that between 2008 to at least 2010, Pioneer and BCP agreed to divide the market for supply of horse mackerel by allocating territories and/or customers. The parties entered into a suite of agreements relating to the sale and supply of horse mackerel within certain markets, such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West provinces.

"This referral is yet another confirmation of the correctness of our focus on food and agro processing, a sector that has a direct impact on consumers," said acting commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele.