WALVIS BAY – Players in the horse mackerel industry have expressed disappointment over the sale of a 27 300-freezer quota to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to them, Namibian players are more than capable of catching the whole 350 000 metric tons of horse mackerel if planning is done properly.
DRC is the largest consumer of Namibian horse mackerel and is set to pay N$84.7 million for the quota, the remainder of the governmental objective quota that was sold through public auction earlier this year.
Fisheries minister Derek Klazen yesterday told parliament that DRC’s minister of economy Jean-Marie Kalumba Yuma is in the country to finalise the agreement and work out the modalities with players in the horse mackerel industry.
“They have brought along a symbolic cheque to show their commitment and we are waiting for the money to reflect in our accounts. They say within three days,” Klazen told parliamentarians yesterday.
Klazen explained DRC showed interest in participating in Namibian fishing activities when Yuma visited the country earlier to see how they can engage Namibia and the local fishing sector in landing more fish for their country.
“They wanted to understand the logistics and supply chain without infringing on the Namibian market,” he explained.
The fish is expected to be caught by Namibian companies and landed at the Matadi port in DRC and will only be available in Kinshasa to ensure that they don’t interfere with the rest of the Namibian market clients.
However, industry players yesterday told New Era that they are more than capable to catch the quota themselves instead of it being sold to the DRC.
They are also unhappy about the timing of the announcement.
“We have the capacity to catch the whole 350 000 metric tons for the whole year. It is just a matter of planning from the ministry and we have been very vocal about it. You cannot make 350 000 metric tons available from June to December and expect it to be caught as the fishing season is already in the middle,” a frustrated fishing sector player, who requested anonymity said.
Another stakeholder also told New Era yesterday they have been advising government to make the entire total allowable catch available in January with the start of the season so that they can plan better.
“The entire TAC must be made available in January so that we all plan and know how much the governmental objective quota is, for us to tender for that as we have the whole year to catch it, apart from our own quota,” he said.
Chairman of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations Matti Amukwa also said the quota, which was auctioned was previously caught by Namibian operators and a significant part of the catch was sold to DRC.
“Now, the quota will hopefully still be caught by Namibian operators to protect employment within the industry and the fish caught will surely go to the DRC market. It doesn’t have to be negative for our country as long as the Namibian employment and investments are prioritised and protected,” Amukwa said.
However, Amukwa feels the rules and regulations pertaining to the auctioned quota must be respected, irrespective of the buyer of such quota. “Those rules and regulations are there to protect the national industry and our marine resources,” he said. - email@example.com