NAMIBIA – The Tunacor Group, Nambia’s largest fishing company is investing in a new solar powered horse mackerel processing facility in Walvis Bay.

The 4 000 square metre facility will be fitted with solar panels to provide clean energy and eco-friendly electricity for onshore fish-processing activities, the company said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The new processing plant will be the country’s first fishing factory to operate on solar energy, producing value-added horse mackerel products while employing up to 250 workers.

This will increase the Tunacor Group’s workforce to 2 500 people, making the company the biggest employer in the fisheries sector, reports the Namibian.

Speaking during the groundbreaking event, Fisheries Minister Bernhard Esau hailed the company’s major investment in the industry saying that it will unlock the country’s potential in the fishing sector.

The minister called on all fishing right holders to shift their focus towards value-addition to unlock employment potential in the sector.

“I was convinced that the time is now. Continuing to export our horse mackerel frozen on board freezer vessels meant that we would not unlock the employment potential in this sector,” said the minister.

Esau commended local companies which are already involved in value-addition in the sector, which has resulted in products such as horse mackerel, fillets, canned horse mackerel and other forms being successfully commercialised in various markets.

The minister stressed that the country targets to increase onshore value addition of fish to at least 250 000 metric tonnes, making about 70% of Namibia’s total 350 000 metric tonnes horse mackerel total allowable catch, by 2022.

He called upon rights holders to establish long-term business partnerships to start value-addition initiatives. This, he said, will work in their favour as they will be in compliance with the scorecard that is in the process of being gazetted.

“It will indeed be difficult for rights holders who are not doing value-addition to meet the criteria on the ‘number of jobs per metric tonne quota as outlined in our scorecard, which is still on course’.

The investment also comes at a time when the firm took delivery of the country’s first ever purpose-built fishing vessel, named the Oshiveli.

Built for US$14 million (NAD200 million) at Spain’s Armon Shipyards, the vessel can land hake, horse mackerel and monkfish with a change of gear. It will have a crew of 56 and support 150 land-based personnel.