WALVIS BAY – Fisheries minister Derek Klazen has warned new fishing rights holders to get their houses in order or face the risk of their quotas being withheld until they sort out their internal squabbles.
Klazen, who was addressing the fishing industry on Thursday during his first annual address, said some rights holders are trying to cheat their partners from the companies they formed when they were applying for rights.
He says his office has been receiving numerous complaints from people who have been cut out from such companies after rights were granted.
It seems some rights holders approached women, youth, war veterans and vulnerable communities to be part of companies that applied for rights but never had the intension of sharing the benefits.
Some companies have been looking at ways to cut their members from the companies by letting them sign off their shares for a once-off fee.
Klazen, however, cautioned against such actions and called on rights holders to do some introspection and refrain from taking that route as the country’s resources should be shared.
“Do not throw the people you had in the company from the beginning, away. You needed veterans, youth, women and people form vulnerable communities for your application and you got your rights. When you started with these applications, you were all happy, drinking tea. Some drank whiskey together and things were good. But now that the money is rolling in, you are cutting out some of your partners who were instrumental in you getting a right. This has to stop,” Klazen said.
According to the minister, people are also playing off BIPA against the ministry, since there are two Acts involved with the application of rights.
“We are in the process of acquiring a legal opinion – but legally, we use both acts. We are consulting the BIPA document as well to see if unfairness has started,” Klazen told the industry.
He once again also urged established fishing companies to stop exploiting new ones.
“I was forced to withhold quotas because right holders don’t agree among each other. By giving someone a bag of potatoes is not what we mean by empowerment. I am asking again: deal with these matters yourself. Don’t involve the minister, as it can become unpleasant,” he said.