NAMIBIA – The government of Namibia introduced the fishing rights and quota system to “empower” Namibians by giving them licences to harvest fish from the Atlantic Ocean every year but the scheme has been faced with a myriad of controversies and alleged corrupt practices.
According to reports by New Era, the future for hundreds of sea fisheries workers in Namibia looks bleak and uncertain as most of the fishing companies will not be in a position to operate until the beginning of the new season when the dust has settled after new fishing quotas have been allocated.
Current quotas that have run a full seven-year cycle are expected to come to an end with some of the old quotas expected to be cut in half by up to 50%.
Fisheries minister Albert Kawana in recent media reports indicated that new applicants have been considered with information leaking in snippets that some of the successful new applicants have already received letters confirming their approval.
NovaNam fishing company which is based in Lüderitz is one of the companies whose operations will be heavily affected by the severe fishing quota cuts.
NovaNam in a recent press statement said that as a consequence of the significant reduction of hake quotas, management fulfilled its obligation by directly informing the company’s stakeholders, its more than 2, 200 employees of its new position.
It said that due to the current quota dilemma the company would be unable to continue catching and processing beyond the week of 22 June 2020 which is three months prior to the end of the current hake fishing season.
Former acting CEO of Seaflower Group Paulus Ngalangi in an interview highlighted that, as opposed to the past when old, established companies received adequate fishing quotas annually, they would be forced to buy additional quotas from newcomers due to these cuts.
“As an entity solely depending on these quotas we will operate against a loss if salaries, maintenance and docking fees should be paid from proceeds of a quota reduced almost by half,” he emphasised.
He suggested that new companies should form joint ventures with the old ones whereby the newcomers can provide the quotas whilst the already established companies can provide the vessels, factories and manpower. “This will in the end create a win-win situation,” he reasoned.
SAGA Seafood Namibia, the operating company for Icelandic fishing company Samherji in Namibia closed its operations at Walvis Bay in March on accounts of lack of fishing quotas.
The development came after Samherji has hinted that it was going to withdraw from Namibia following the Fishrot exposé.
Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit exposed corruption and money-laundering in Namibia’s fishing industry, implicating some of the country’s most influential men in government who were selling Namibia’s pelagic quotas in return for bribes.
“Any further divestment in Namibia will be done in close dialogue with relevant authorities. Samherji will announce publicly as soon as there are new developments in the group’s exit from Namibia,” reiterated the company’s interim CEO Björgólfur Johannsson in February.
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