The International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF), the global charity that is focused on promoting sustainable development, by working with, and promoting environmentally sustainable and socially responsible one-by-one tuna fisheries, announced that Rahim Hoosen will be taking over the helm from John Burton on 1 December this year. Burton, who will remain on the board as a trustee, has been the chair since June 2013, and has been instrumental in providing the organisation with a solid foundation and an excellent reputation with its key beneficiaries, the coastal fishermen and the communities that depend on them.

This leadership transition has been planned since November 2018 when a recruitment process was initiated to expand the board with an eye on identifying the necessary leadership qualities to successfully navigate current and future challenges. Hoosen who is the Trading Head – Groceries, Household, Pets and Personal Care at the South African retail chain, Woolworths, was invited to join the board in January 2019 and has since had the opportunity to get better acquainted with the organisation by seeing IPNLF’s mission in action.

As part of the transition plan, Burton and Hoosen shared co-chair responsibilities during the most recent board meetings. During this transition period the IPNLF has launched its new 5-year Strategic Plan and this represented an ideal opportunity for the chair succession to happen with an eye on helping oversee the governance of the organisation and helping inform its strategic and future direction. The IPNLF will also take this opportunity to further strengthen its board by recruiting two additional trustees with the relevant expertise to help advance its mission and goals.

Rahim Hoosen is a retail expert with more than 10 years of leadership and strategy development experience. In his current role he is responsible for driving ethical and responsible sourcing of products for Woolworths’ customers throughout South Africa. He has been instrumental in driving several sustainability and giving back initiatives aimed at reducing environmental and social impact. Driven by his passion for sustainability, he was part of the landmark project that saw Woolworths convert all of its canned tuna procurement to responsibly sourced pole-and-line products. He has a Bachelor Commerce Degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and has recently completed his Senior Management Development Program at the University of Stellenbosch.

Hoosen’s expertise in strategy development and implementation, organisational governance, communication, as well as his retail insights will help shape and direct IPNLF’s work programme and network expansion. Commenting on his appointment, Hoosen says, “Our ocean resources face incredibly challenging times that require a brave few to stand tall and be resilient in order to drive the change needed in the industry. IPNLF is at the forefront, leading that change and making a difference for a more sustainable tomorrow while helping to improve the lives of coastal and small- scale fishing communities. I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to working with our incredibly dedicated and talented team to help make a difference”.

Commenting on the transition, Burton says “It is with a tinge of sadness that I hand over the baton. I’ve hugely enjoyed my time at the helm as I sincerely believe in IPNLF’s mission and will remain committed to improving the livelihoods of our small-scale fishermen. One-by-one fisheries continue to face many challenges in maintaining its position at the forefront of sustainable tuna fishing and supplying a growing market, to the ultimate benefit of coastal communities. I have full faith in Rahim’s leadership and hope to continue to contribute to finding some of those solutions.”

During Burton’s tenure IPNLF grew from a small charity that was mostly focused on fisheries in the Maldives to a global organisation that’s respected by a wide range of stakeholders, including national governments, market actors, the scientific community and donors. Burton emphasised the important role IPNLF are playing by saying, ”the hard working one-by-one tuna fishermen are finding it increasingly difficult to compete in a sector that’s dominated by large-scale industrial fishing. It’s important we remember that these traditional catching methods have long provided essential support for many coastal communities. They create much needed employment on vessels and in local processing facilities. And of course, they’re a vital source of healthy nutrition. Unquestionably, these fisheries are something to be cherished, protected and celebrated”.