You have news tips, feel free to contact us via email




By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus

Currently, most of Namibia’s masbanker Total Allowable Catch is frozen on-board of large freezer vessels, and it does not reach on-shore for some value addition.

The masbanker/horse mackerel account for 68% of the production of the fishery sector, but when it comes to value addition, it only accounts for 36%.

Simonis Storm Security revealed in their October report titled Fishing Insight.

According to the report, the masbanker fish (horse mackerel) does not lend itself to value-adding.

The insights have also revealed that “selling the fish other than whole frozen, guts in with head and tail, is destroying value”.

Horse mackerel is the largest sub-sector but second in value, and the midwater trawl fishery has a TAC of around 360,000 tons, contributing around N$2,3 billion to the economy.

Moreover, during the second quarter of this year, out of the total landings of quota species of 108,065 metric tons, Horse Mackerel recorded the highest landings of 65,849 metric tons.

However, Simonis Storm’s findings highlight that most of the product is currently frozen on-board of very large freezer vessels.

While the government is pushing towards getting a portion of the TAC landed wet to create more jobs and introduce value-adding.

Horse mackerel is a low-value, high-volume fish sold into a very price-sensitive market in central Africa, where it competes with fish caught in vast volumes of North Africa.

Simonis Storm’s assessment revealed that the fishery is operating at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY),  which means it has reached its maximum.

The report highlighted that the horse mackerel sector has been looking at possible value-adding activities, but the outcome has not yet been spectacular.

The hake fisheries have a TAC of around 164,000 tons and are the second largest sub-sector, after masbanker but first in value, contributing roughly N$3,5 billion to the economy.

The report has, however, revealed that the hake resource is not fished at Maximum SustainableYield yet.

The researchers highlighted that the government follows “a conservative policy when determining the TAC, allowing only 80% of the reproduction yield to be fished”.

The remaining 20% is reserved to assist in the growth of the biomass.

The hake fishery is Marine Stewardship Council certified, and their goal is to reach 65% of MSY in ten years from now.

It is estimated it will take between 20 – 25 years to reach its MSY.

The TAC  for hake is allocated 70% to be landed, as wet fish for on-shore processing and 30% to be processed and frozen at sea by freezer trawlers.

Hake lends itself to value-adding, and the industry is strong in high-quality retail products, which are predominantly sold in the supermarkets of southern and northern Europe.

The report has highlighted that it is not only the masbanker sector operating at its peak, but most industry players are currently operating at full Maximum Sustainable Yield.

They have reached the TAC levels set by the government.

“This means that growth in the industry will not come from additional players in the industry catching more fish, but rather increased value addition activities or processes being established in Namibia,” researchers indicated.

The researchers suggest that existing industry players establish factories and processing plants to add value to their fish products before exporting to foreign markets.

Alternatively, selling to the local market to drive growth and indirect job creation in other sectors linked to the fishing value chain.

Additional fishing quotas issued in 2020 reduced the market share of each industry player, thereby lowering profits and increasing the time trawlers stay idle for each player.

In essence, each industry player operates a smaller market share, but the market size remains unchanged.

The fishing industry is expected to grow by 2,8% in 2021 and 3,6% in 2022, compared to -9,4% in 2020.

The fishing industry has become a weaker contributor to the Namibian economy since 2009- with the importance of the sector on a downward trend.

Simonis Storm’s assessment projects that the decline will continue to become a minor part of the economy.

Researchers added that this would materialise “if value addition processes are not set up locally, thereby creating additional jobs along the value chain,” researchers added.

According to the National Hake Association, the industry employs about 15,500 citizens, with about 12,000 being used by the local hake sub-sector alone.

This excludes indirect jobs created by or dependent on the fishing industry.

Growth in this sector is expected to remain relatively flat going forward (potentially negative in the long run).


Simonis Storm stated that local fish producers need a great deal of investment.

According to their assessment from 2018, net investment in the fishing industry has been on a decline.

Net investment in this industry has decreased by 46% on an annualised basis for the last two years.

Despite interest rates being low, the report has highlighted that business confidence remains low and prevents current industry players from taking on risks to start value addition activities.

Due to the additional quotas issued in 2020, companies that invested in vessels and processing plants see lower returns.

To maintain economic throughput in their factories, “these operators enter into agreements with the new quota holders to catch and process their fish, thereby adding another cost level to their raw material,” the analysis.

In addition, the report has also highlighted the policy uncertainty regarding the enforcement of NEEEF and the unresolved Fishrot case weighing on investor sentiment within the industry.

Given that these factors will not be dealt with in the short run, “we expect further disinvestment in this industry,” the researchers added.


For the second quarter of 2021, the fisheries products, including manufactured fish, brought in N$3 billion; moreover, fish is the only non-mineral product that can generate close to a billion in export earnings a month.

Fish products account for 13% of total exports on average since January 2021, making this the second biggest export product category following commodity export products.

Simonis Storm’s analysis explained that Covid-19 regulations, closing businesses in the hospitality and restaurant industry led to decreased demand for Namibia’s fish exports.

The value of fish exports decreased by 35% between April 2020 and November 2020.

The value of exports bottomed in November 2020 and have stabilised somewhat at about N$800 billion since April 2021.

The report highlighted that the decrease in demand was recovered by exports to supermarkets in Europe within the local hake industry.

The National Hake Association has informed the researchers that external demand for fish remains strong and will support further fish export growth in the future.


The hake just got MSC certified only last November, this opened markets to the industry, which had been closed to Namibia as they were not a certified sustainable fishery.

The report highlight that certification allows value-adding to be further increased.

Consequently, increasing sales prices and creating jobs.

The researchers added that growth in the resource would take place, albeit very slowly, and the existing factories can absorb the increased TAC.


With the increasing signs of climate change, potential adverse natural events pose a risk to Namibian fisheries in the future.

The researchers highlighted that beyond climate impact, another major challenge is the misallocation of fishing quotas/rights in the past.

As a result, large productive vessels left the industry and quotas were distributed to politically connected individuals, and some of the smaller rights holders went into new ventures.

“This negatively impacted the performance of the industry and the amount of quota left in the sea,” the report revealed.

The Simonis Storm researchers indicated that the political misallocation’s impact is still ongoing, with the horse mackerel sector (such as Seaflower Pelagic) still trying to resolve certain obstacles.

In addition to the above, the Covid-19 pandemic occurred, and fisheries were not classified as an essential service provider, resulting in most vessels being recalled.

Following discussions with trade unions, the industry developed a safety protocol, resulting in the industry being declared an essential activity and industry.

The quota allocations for the 2021 fishing year were done on time. Specifically in the hake sector, the

government auction of quota was conducted without errors and in time for the industry to land the fish within

the quota year, which was not the case with the first auction a few years ago.

The report has also highlighted the late allocation of quotas in previous years as mismanagement of public assets and rent-seeking behaviour allowed to continue at the expense of economic growth. Email:

Julia Heita

Related Posts

Read Also ... x