WALVIS BAY - Right holders, who have had rights for up to 20 years, have a tough battle ahead as they have to account for what they have invested in the fishing sector, says Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhard Esau.
Esau said this when he delivered his annual address to industry stakeholders last Friday. Fishing rights have already expired hence the ministry has to take stock of investment made by right holders to see if they deserve to be granted fishing rights again.
Esau said this would be done through the scorecard already discussed with the industry and approved by Cabinet for implementation and is expected to be gazetted soon.
He added that the ministry is finalising the weights to the criteria before the scorecard is gazetted within the next few months.
“In brief, the scorecard is here. I hope the industry has taken advantage of this one year in which we have been consulting to invest and create jobs, so that you may qualify for quotas,” he said. He said he was determined to ensure that fishing quota allocations are based on the performance of right holders, and not just historical entitlements as there are other Namibians needing consideration and an opportunity to make their contribution in the fishing sector.
The minister also expressed his disappointment with some companies that previously received quotas for more than 50 000 metric tons of horse mackerel annually, but failed to create enough jobs to handle the large quotas they received for more than 20 years.
“I don’t understand what guarantees those companies are asking for and why they should be given another opportunity if they could not do it during the 20 years they were given the rights,” asks he.
Esau revealed that horse mackerel has the biggest quota, however, the hake sector creates more jobs in the fishing industry. He added that he was told that value addition in the horse mackerel sector could not work. However, he said these arguments have been proven wrong, as the industry has a growing market of canned horse mackerel.
“I am happy to note that several other companies are already investing in horse mackerel value addition activities. Government is serious on implementing a 70/30 policy on horse mackerel by 2022, whereby 70 percent of the fish will be landed wet and value added onshore in order to maximise on job creation for our people. Value addition is the way to go, the days of freezing on-board and exporting, which create just a handful of jobs, are gone,” he said.