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Licensing of Fishing quotas under scrutiny

Mon, 8 December 2014 03:19
by Kudzai Chimhangwa

Concern over the extent of quotas granted to fishing companies operating in Namibian waters remains a nagging issue in the industry, although the sector has continued to perform relatively well.
This follows a recent litany of fights over fishing territories, with some being filed before the courts over quotas.
Namibian Monk and Sole Association Vice Chairperson Anton Olivier said indeed there was fairness in the administration of licensing and quotas but more needed to be done.
“The licensing of quotas to non-rights holders should come to an end, so that there will be more stability in the sector,” said Olivier.
He pointed out that the prospects for hake fishermen are good but for monk the quotas were a bit higher than scientifically recommended, which he described as a bit worrying.
Olivier said that government needs to create more opportunities for job creation, in terms of fishing areas allocated as a serious criteria.
“Although the markets are picking up, government should look at whether or not rights holders pay income tax as they are agents of the people of Namibia who harvest a natural resource,” he said adding that the idea is for them to pay as much income tax as possible in a responsible manner for the benefit of the country.
In October this year, one of the major players in Namibia’s horse mackerel fishing sector, Namsov Fishing Enterprises, filed a court case with the minister of fisheries and marine resources with the intention to get a bigger fishing quota than the one awarded to it.
The company received a total quota of 38 636 metric tonnes out of Namibia’s total allowable catch of 350 000 tonnes for horse mackerel during the 2014 fishing season.
Namsov wanted the fisheries minister to be ordered to raise the quota awarded by about 7 400 tonnes.
In another case, there was furore over a 12 000 metric tonne horse mackerel quota awarded to Etale Fishing in 2013, despite allegations to the effect that the company did not have rights or facilities to catch and process horse mackerel.
Two companies involved in horse mackerel fishing, Emeritus Fishing Limited and Atlantic Harvesters of Namibia Limited have also taken to the High Court in the hope of having their original quotas restored after the ministry suddenly cut their quotas and gave them to new companies.
However, the ministry argues that it has a focus on a policy of broad-based participation in the industry with significant alterations to its management system, and has introduced a rights-based system from a quota based system.
The management of commercial fisheries is based on a system by which rights are granted, with total allowable catches being based and set on research results and quotas are issued to rights holders.
Fisheries and Marine Resources spokesperson Charlie Matengu dismissed the conflicts and allegations of granting fishing grounds to non-rights holders as baseless.
“Those are baseless allegations, it’s not the first time we have heard of that matter as a ministry. We always encourage fishermen to come forward and prove those allegations, substantiate them,” he said adding that the ministry has a publicly known standard procedure in allocating quotas.
“It is quite natural that in cases where such resources are scarce, issues of conflict are bound to come up,” he said.
Matengu said that the industry has been doing relatively well this year and government has since adopted a value addition strategy for the sector.
He said there were more research facilities and the setting up of value addition facilities which have taken centre stage as compared to the past when people would just fish and sell.
“There is more attention to processing and packaging which creates employment opportunities for locals and leads to more contribution by the sector to the country’s gross domestic product,” he said.
Namibia’s fishing industry is recognised globally for its competences, from handling, distribution, and marketing of fish products.
The government of Namibia has embarked upon the development of aquaculture in order to create employment for Namibians, reduce poverty and increase economic growth.
The fisheries sector remains one of the highest contributors to the economy, closely following the mining sector in terms of exports.