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Hake sector explores fish waste opportunities

2024-02-08  Eveline de Klerk

Hake sector explores fish waste opportunities

WALVIS BAY - Six companies in the hake sector are exploring new opportunities within the sector to maximise their harvest. 

The founding members of the new initiative consist of leading Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified hake fishing companies Embwinda, Hangana Seafood, Merlus, Novanam, Pereira and Seawork. 

Non-fishing associate founding members joining the initiative are the Fisheries Observers Agency, Namibia Nature Foundation and the Sam Nujoma Campus - University of Namibia. They have formed the Namibia Ocean Cluster (NOC), and signed a commitment to minimise waste and maximise the socio-economic value of the fish harvested from the Namibian fisheries sector. The signing marks a significant stage in preparing for the cluster to become a legally registered non-profit organisation in Namibia in early February.

NOC chairperson Pierre le Roux noted during the signing ceremony yesterday that they are supported by the World Economic Forum’s Ocean Action Agenda. The aim is to utilise what was previously seen as waste. The Icelandic Ocean Cluster, through innovative research, produced products such as fish skin bandages with incredible medicinal healing qualities, cod liver oil tablets, collagen products from fish skins for human consumption, fish enzyme pharmaceutical products, fish heads for human consumption, pet foods, and leather products from fish skins.

“They have encouraged us as the first African Cluster to also develop our own. Hence, our cluster’s goal is to promote innovation, research and markets for fisheries by-products, while enhancing socio-economic benefits. So, when we catch the fish in its entirety, we cut the head off, and it goes into the sea. We also clean the guts or intestines. Only the body part comes to the shore, and is processed. Once processed here, we end up with the bones and skin, which are also considered by-products in some countries,” Le Roux stated. He continued that they are now exploring how to bring all these discarded parts of the fish back to the value chain by exploring possible by-products which can create a new additional market. Seawork already started experimenting on a small scale. However, collaboration and pulling resources together across the sector are needed to ensure that they succeed in their quest. Currently, there is a market in Europe for fish bones, but collaboration could open more doors for this by-product.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, but we will get there as we want to maximise the quotas we are currently receiving. We cannot ask for more quota, as it could put a strain on our natural resources. Hence, we are trying to do more with what we are currently receiving,” he observed.

Also speaking at the signing ceremony was the chairperson of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, Matti Amukwa, who said the industry welcomes the initiatives, and that it is a profound moment to see these major players joining hands towards a common goal.

“They represent a significant portion of the hake fisheries’ sector and also the monkfish sector, and one can see that they can achieve what they could not on their own,” he added.

Amukwa said this new initiative will not only develop a totally new industry, but also create additional jobs in the country. He then expressed his gratitude to the World Economic Forum through their Ocean Action Agenda, as well as the British government as a financial donor, for helping establish the Namibia Ocean Cluster.

“The vision of the cluster is to maximise the utilisation of all fish harvested from Namibian fisheries, while enhancing socio-economic benefit and creating a safe, pre-competitive, networking forum where participants can collaborate to resolve collective challenges,” Amukwa said. 

The NOC is filling a very important gap, while bringing together companies in areas of joint commercial interest in what is otherwise a very confidential and competitive industry.

“It is in the pre-competitive stage of developing seafood products. By coming together, these companies and the associate members who are teaming up with them can start addressing the big issue of working towards zero waste by combining their collective expertise, research capabilities, infrastructure and financial resources,” he said. Amukwa further stated that until recently, marine life or seafood has never been considered  for the medicinal and cosmetic elements nor nutritionally valuable trace elements of fish parts which are currently not utilised. “By working together and networking, both locally and internationally, this is opening a whole new side to the fishing industry that up till now we have not had the collective capacity to consider,” he continued.


2024-02-08  Eveline de Klerk

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