Outdated funding model haunts FOA

Home National Outdated funding model haunts FOA
Outdated funding model haunts FOA

SWAKOPMUND – The Fisheries Observer Agency (FOA) is navigating financial sustainability challenges, as its current funding model has not been updated since 2014. 

This has led the board to direct management to reduce certain activities, according to the 2023 financial report of FOA, which was made available to New Era yesterday.

According to the report, cuts were deemed necessary to align the available funds and ensure the financial stability of the agency. 

Yet, amid these turbulent fiscal seas, the FOA remains a stalwart guardian of Namibia’s natural riches – even as it faces daunting challenges. 

Its mission, paramount, is to ensure the sustainable stewardship and harvest of marine resources by vigilantly reporting offences committed at sea, a role that holds global significance, especially in the realm of fisheries legislation.

“The agency had a budgeted revenue of N$71.9 million for the 2023 financial year, but it only generated N$60.7 million, resulting in a shortfall of N$11.2 million. 

Consequently, some planned activities for the year could not be carried out due to insufficient funds,” the financial report states.

The agency is tasked with ensuring fishing companies do not exploit resources and collecting scientific data on the utilisation of species.

FOA has a funding formula based on the landed mass per species and kilogrammes harvested by the fishing industry that is payable to the Fisheries Observer Fund (FOF), which essentially funds the functions of the FOA. 

The agency currently charges a 0.9% levy and wants this adjusted upward to 1.5% of the landed value of each fishery and per species.

According to the chairperson, Inocencio Verde, addressing the financial sustainability challenge requires implementing cost-cutting measures that do not compromise compliance monitoring and data collection. 

He further stated that management is tasked with embarking on cost-cutting measures moving forward.

“I would also like to request that the shareholder, the fisheries ministry, steps in to ensure that the review of the funding model is conducted to enable the FOA to carry out its constitutional mandate effectively. As we work towards this goal, we implore the fishing industry to be understanding of the required changes,” he said.

FOA CEO Stanley Ndara also expressed their determination and commitment to safeguard Namibia’s marine resources for the benefit of the nation and the global community, despite facing financial challenges.

“Despite these financial challenges, this institution continues to persevere and demonstrate an indomitable spirit and an unyielding passion for the preservation of our natural resources, especially in a world where natural resources are increasingly under threat,” he said.

Furthermore, Ndara highlighted that the FOA remains guided by a steadfast mission and continues to be a key player in protecting Namibia’s marine ecosystems, promoting sustainable fishing practices and fostering the continued prosperity of the blue economy.

“Through partnerships with local and international stakeholders, we aim to contribute to the global effort of conserving our oceans for future generations,” he said.

According to the financial report, cash and cash equivalents of FOA for the current financial year stand recorded at over N$1.2 million, compared to the N$7.5 million recorded during the previous financial year. 

This decline in cash reserves raises concerns about the agency’s ability to meet its financial obligations in the future.

The total liabilities were recorded at N$7.8 million for the 2022/2023 financial year ending, compared to over N$14 million for the previous financial year.

– edeklerk@nepc.com.na