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Proposed open bidding will destabilise fishing sector

2020-03-17  Eveline de Klerk

Proposed open bidding will destabilise fishing sector
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WALVIS BAY  – The fishing sector and its stakeholders say recommendations made by the High-Level Panel on the Namibian Economy (HLPNE) on the fishing sector will kill the industry and enrich the already rich.

HLPNE appointed by President Hage Geingob last year to advise Geingob on the revival of the Namibian economy presented its findings and recommendations to the president last Thursday.
The panel recommends an open-bidding process that could allow government to raise significant money and it also suggested a moratorium on the allocation of fishing rights to allow the government to introduce a much more transparent process.

However, industry players argued that the recommendations were not clearly thought through and could disrupt the industry with massive financial implications and job losses.

Specifically pointing at the bidding process that was recommended by the panel, the industry is of the opinion that the current process allows ordinary Namibians to enter the industry, whereby a bidding process will only allow the elite to take part in this lucrative sector.

Seawork Fish Processors, managing director, Peter Pahl on Friday told New Era that it’s difficult to comment on the recommendations because they are very broad-based.  
“There is no detail on see-frozen versus land frozen quota.  There is also no indication on who will qualify to partake in the bidding process,” he explained.

He added that the recommendations are not also clear on the maximum and minimum volumes per bid.
“It also do not speak about Namibianisation, employment creation and investments at all.  I guess we will have to wait for further details on how they want to go about it he,” said Pahl.

Trade Union Congress of Namibia president, Paulus Hango, feels bidding for fishing quotas will only benefit the rich or those who have access to money and it will completely cut out ordinary Namibians that are currently taking part in the industry.

“The bidding recommendation will create a bigger inequality gap as only the rich will have access to it,” he explained.
Hango added that the ones with the money will buy all the quotas, thus bidding cannot be allowed as it puts many jobs at risk.

“We are trying to fight poverty not add on to it hence we will not allow a bidding process.  We suggest round table discussions inclusive of employees and ordinary Namibian that are part of the industry to come up with better recommendations that will allow government to make money without disadvantaging the ordinary fishing industry players,” he said.

President of the Namibia Fishing Industries & Fisherman Workers Union (NFI), Daniel Imbili also says the recommendations are a terrible idea and that the committee was supposed to consult with all stakeholders before making such recommendations. 

“We were never consulted and cannot support them as massive investments have been made in the industry.  Unless only a portion is released for bidding. It will only put us backwards. Let’s learn from the land issue as bidding is one of the reasons why our people do not have residential land as only the rich and those who have access to money can take part in the process,” he said.

Chairperson of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Association Matti Amukwa, yesterday also told New Era the recommendations should carefully be looked at as long-term right holders invested in facilities and assets, while creating thousands of jobs. 

“This should be strongly considered when allocating the resources otherwise the industry will be destabilised,” he said.  

2020-03-17  Eveline de Klerk

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