The Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) is investigating various fishing vessel owners and operators for alleged fixing of quota usage fees paid to fishing rights holders.
The investigation was initiated on 8 November 2023 in terms of Section 33(3) of the Competition Act.
The allegations stem from information the NaCC received during August and September this year of possible collusion among various vessel owners and operators in the Namibian fishing industry.
The alleged collusion reportedly involves fixing fishing quota usage fees paid to fishing rights holders when they enter quota usage agreements with the vessel owners or operators.
The fishing rights holders do not own vessels and as such they sell their allocated fishing quotas to the vessel owners and operators. The operators allegedly offer the fishing rights holders the same fee and refuse to negotiate new rates when the fishing rights holders raise concerns regarding the offered quota usage fee.
The NaCC therefore, initiated an investigation against various vessel owners and operators to establish whether their conduct constitutes a contravention of Namibia’s competition legislation.
This means the NaCC must establish if the fishing vessel owners either directly or indirectly violate the law by fixing the purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions.
“The NaCC is informed that fishing rights holders receive annual quotas from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources which they are required to utilize fully by the end of each fishing season. This necessitates those that do not have vessels to approach vessel owners and operators, and enter quota usage agreements, for the vessel owners to utilize the allocated quotas on their behalf,” reads a statement from Dina
//Gowases, NaCC spokesperson.
However, these owners and operators prioritise harvesting their own quotas and only thereafter harvest the fishing rights holders’ quotas, //Gowases added.
“At this juncture, it is alleged that fishing rights holders have no choice, but to agree to any quota usage fees the vessel owners and operators offer them, also taking into consideration that, the vessel owners and operators also have access to their own fishing quotas as well as those of National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) and government objective quotas,” reads the statement.
//Gowases added that concerned vessel owners and operators may engage the Commission through its Corporate Leniency Programme (CLP) on a “first-in-the-door” or a “would-be applicant basis”, to apply for leniency by self-reporting themselves to the Commission and handing over evidence regarding the alleged cartel conduct, in return for lenient treatment.
This treatment could include partial or full immunity from the Commission.