SWAKOPMUND – While the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia is determined to stand by its decision to partner with Mabasen Fishing, Malta-based Ocean Whale cancelled the catch agreement it had with Mabasen due to non-payment.
This has dumped Fishcor’s operations into uncertainty.
Ocean Whale was expected to make available two vessels, the Grey Whale and Sei Whale, to catch the horse mackerel quota for Fishcor through Mabasen.
Fishcor and Mabasen entered a marriage, wherein the latter was expected to catch their 8 000 metric tonnes horse mackerel quota before the end of the fishing season.
Each vessel was earmarked to employ a minimum of 34 Namibians. New Era understands the quota is worth over N$40 million.
In a missive dated 15 September 2023, seen by this paper, Ocean Whale says it terminated the contract due to a change in circumstances, and several amendments regarding the invoice date and amount.
“The current circumstances do not allow us to wait further or agree another deadline for payment of the mentioned invoice. It is with deep regret [that] we must inform you that Ocean Whale Limited has reached the stage where we must terminate the agreement. This is also due to your non-performance of clauses 4.1 and 4.2 of the agreement,” the letter states.
Ocean Whale added that it is free from all the obligations to collaborate with Mabasen on the catching and freezing of horse mackerel in Namibia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
They, however, indicate that they would cooperate with the company when both parties are in a better condition to conclude a new agreement.
Aware of the cancelled catch agreement, Fischor CEO Clive Gawanab yesterday told this publication that it was due to the delay in the issuance of the licence.
He said there is nothing sinister about their deal with Mabasen, and that the fake news that spread like the deadly Covid-19 resulted in the delay.
Gawanab said some players in the fishing industry lobbied the line ministry and the media with claims of alleged “illegal fishing” and the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) listing of the vessels selected for the Mabasen transaction.
“The vessels were eventually cleared of the [false] IUU listing claims, and issued with an advance clearance certificate by the ministry. The licence was issued yesterday by the ministry,” he added.
Fishcor views the sabotage attempts as a clear violation of its right to conduct its fishing business, and to participate in the vertical value chain.
“It is rather unfortunate that such false claims by the ‘concerned group’ resulted in a significant delay in the process at the time of the issuance of this statement,” a disappointed Gawanab said.
He reiterated that the Fishcor-Mabasen nuptial is the best revenue-driver in the short-term, without committing the company to long-term quota arrangements that have the potential of exposing them to risks.
He said it is thus unfortunate that Fishcor is now being forced to reveal the terms of the unique value proposition of one of their contestants in the race to partner with Fischor.
The decision to enter into a catching, landing and marketing agreement with Mabasen was made because it offered the best value proposition.
The agreement signed in June 2023 stipulates that the fishing quota will remain with Fishcor until the fish are sold.
“Due to cash-flow and fishing knowledge limitations at Fishcor, Mabasen will provide upfront risk capital to fund the mobilisation of fishing vessels. In return, we will pay Mabasen a landing fee based on market rates per kilogramme of fish caught”, Gawanab continued.
One of the business partners in Mabasen, Charlton Useb, yesterday told New Era that they had to mutually agree to cancel the contract until the licence was issued due to financial implications involved, especially penalties.
“It was a commercial decision that was made, as we had to wait for more than a month to have the licence issued. The licence was, however, issued today [Thursday], and we have a copy of it. We have also resumed discussions with Ocean Whale Limited,” he said.
He added that the path they are taking now is to renegotiate the terms of the agreement with Ocean Whale.
They are keen on signing another agreement with the company, if they are comfortable with the terms which would be put forth during their negotiations.
“However, if the new agreement might have cost implications, we will have to look at other alternatives which are already in place”.
Useb feels positive that they will be able to catch the complete quota before the end of the year, as the current fishing season ends on 31 December.