WINDHOEK - Despite the fact that a total of 5193 Namibians countrywide applied for fishing rights, there is only between 90 to 120 rights to be granted, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhard Esau revealed yesterday.
Esau’s announcement follows completion by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources the process of receiving applications for 2018 fishing rights on Friday, as published in government notices Nos 92 and 150 of 2018.
He reminded all Namibians of the fact that, because of the limited fisheries resources, not all Namibians, and indeed not all applicants, can be issued with a fishing right.
“If we were to issue every applicant with a fishing right, it would make the fisheries sector uneconomical, and a free for-all, which would lead to an unsustainable scramble for this natural resource, leading to its collapse. I am committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of our fisheries stocks, which must only be harvested at sustainable levels as determined through thorough periodic scientific studies, for the sake of future generations of Namibians,” he said.
He advised those who will be successful to receive fishing rights have a responsibility, on behalf of all Namibians, to add value and ensure that its economic benefits are shared by all Namibians.
He pledged to continue ensuring this broad-base beneficiation by re-looking at the sector’s resource rent (levies and fees), in addition to income tax, job creation, enterprise and regional development initiatives, and broad-base shareholding structures. He revealed that about N$600 million in resource rent went to fiscus.
“We don’t want to see starvation wages, we want to see people paid living wages. Fish must be processed in Namibia and not outside. Those with fishing rights must buy Namibian products. Our fisheries must continue to belong to all Namibians, both present and future generations,” he cautioned.
He said applicants who turned up by 17h00 on that day in all the 14 regional council governor’s offices, and at the ministry’s head office, were all served on the same day, and there is no extension of the deadline.
“I am convinced that the application period, which commenced from 24th May 2018 until 31st August 2018, and the amendments contained in Government Notice No 150 of 2018, which introduced flexibilities in the application criteria, allowed all Namibians sufficient time to exercise their democratic and legal rights of applying for a marine fishing right,” Esau noted.
The total 5193 applications received from various application centres comprises of 49 from the Hardap, 28 from Kunene, 110 represent Oshana, 661 from Erongo, 23 came from Kavango West, 34 from Kavango East, 96 from //Kharas, 25 represent Omaheke, 27 from Omusati, 18 applicants from Oshikoto, 32 from Ohangwena, 46 from Otjozondjupa, 31 from Zambezi, Khomas recorded 1247, while the ministry of fisheries head office received 2766 applications.
Esau also announced he will appoint an evaluation and adjudication committee comprising of independent experts who will be vetted by Anti-Corruption Commission to avoid any conflict of interest in the selection process to award fishing rights to applicants.
He said the successful applicants will be notified latest by 31 December once the evaluation committee finalises the selection process.
Equally, he said within two weeks’ time, he will be publishing the names of all applicants for 2018 marine fishing rights, broken down by species applied for, in the print media and on the ministry’s website, as per his earlier statement on the matter.
He stated the evaluation of the applications will be as per the criteria gazetted in the government notices 92 and 150, hence the checklist is clear and transparent.
He promised that every application will be treated fairly and declarations in the forms will be verified.
He said the policy objective in this matter is to give meaning to the government policy of inclusivity and particularly empowerment of previously disadvantaged Namibians, while ensuring that they protect Namibian jobs and investments in the marine fisheries sub-sector.