WALVIS BAY – The fish quotas auctioning modalities and conditions should be adequately thought through and consensus should be reached with all relevant stakeholders in order to maximise government’s income while protecting jobs in the sector.
This is according to players in the local fishing industry who this week voiced their views following fisheries minister Albert Kawana’s announcement that the government has offered to auction off its fishing quotas to raise funds to mitigate the costs of the effects of Covid-19.
The industry in a statement issued late Tuesday said the process should be done without attracting unfair competitors and or illegal fishing vessels, while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the fishing sector.
Speaking on behalf of the industry, chairperson of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations Matti Amukwa said they were not consulted but rather informed about the decision by the minister on 27 July, via a virtual meeting with the industry.
“At the meeting the representatives present expressed their concern regarding such measures and requested that at least part of the quota should be reserved for the local industry,” he said.
Amukwa added the industry respects the decision and understands the need for increased income generation from all potential sources. “However, the general sentiment is very negative regarding such auctions without attending first to the current needs of the local operators, particularly those land-based factories that sustain thousands of jobs,” he said.
He said the auctioning modalities and conditions should be adequately thought through and some consensus reached with all relevant stakeholders.
“We however would like to reaffirm our support to the minister while leading the industry,” he said.
Kawana on Sunday told this publication that auctioning quotas was the only source to speedily get foreign exchange to source medicine and medical equipment.
“Hence, auctioning off quotas makes it possible for us to get foreign exchange quickly and stockpile on medical equipment and medicine in this state of emergency as well as the pandemic the world is facing,” Kawana said.
Explaining the process, Kawana said that 40% of the government quota would be reserved for local companies to preserve local jobs. “As for horse mackerel, there are 72 000 metric tons, out of which 40% will be reserved for local companies. From the 11 000 metric tons of hake, 40% will also be reserved for local companies while 392 metric tons of monk will all be auctioned to the highest bidder,” Kawana said.