I have been in the fisheries sector for over 20 years and I am deeply dismayed withthe article published in The Namibian newspaper this week titled: ‘Esau spoon-feeds Fishcor’.
This article which states that Fisheries Minister, Bernhard Esau has handed the state-owned entity, the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia, a fishing quota worth more than N$1.8 billion over a 15-year period appears to perpetuate bias towards Bidvest Namibia, a company that in my view has ignored totally, the government concept of value addition and national progress towards onshore processing of Horse Mackerel.
Whilst it wrongfully states that Bidvest employs 1200 people, we should never allow the greed that is currently prompting Bidvest to hold government at ransom to be the order of the day. It is time to give home grown solutions a chance and the progression of the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia will only strengthen Namibia’s cause and foster better benefits.
Just to put things into context, Bidvest Namibia has always received the greater chunk of fishing quotas all over the years, yet they have only employed 120 people with extremely minimal value addition. For this reason, government has mandated the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia to lead the process of creating value chains that benefit many other Namibians.
In 2010, Bidvest received a quota encompassing 71 834mt. There after the company has gone on to receive quotas of 68 257mt in 2011, 54 626mt in 2012, 45 601mt in 2013, 37 636mt in 2014, 33 615mt in 2015, 29 738mt in 2016 and 27 556mt in 2017.
Withstanding the fact that the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia carries the government’s interest in the fishing industry through entities such as Seaflower Whitefish Corporation, Seaflower Lobster Corporation Limited and hake firm Seacope Freeze Fishing, this parastatal is set to create over 700 jobs with a quota that is even less than what Bidvest used to get.
It may well be true that the Minister of Fisheries agreed to guarantee 50,000mt for the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia for 15 years as support to the onshore processing project. However it is important to realise that the value of the quota will depend on the market price for the specific year which is not fixed. But in terms of the subscription agreement between the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia and Seaflower Pelagic Processing, the quota usage fee will be market related and on top of that the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia will still receive 40% of the profit in Seaflower Pelagic Processing as per the shareholding structure.
Factually, the guaranteed quota is not to spoon feed the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia but to ensure that the government achieve its objective of sustainable job creation and value addition through the onshore processing of horse mackerel in line with National Development Plans. One of the objectives of the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia as contained in the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia Act (Act 28 of 1991) is: “To undertake research or other projects and to carry out such other activities for the development of the fishing and marine sector, or any related sector, as shall be agreed from time to time with the Minister or with any other person or body, local or foreign, provided that the Corporation shall be compensated for any costs incurred in undertaking or carrying out any such activities”.
Therefore, in line with that objective read together with section 3.3 of the co-operation agreement, it is the Minister’s endeavour “to assist the Corporation in its implementation of the Investment Activities and further provide its co-operation to the Corporation in procuring resources required to implement the Investment Activities”.
This is necessary to ensure that the project is sustainable and will best achieve the objectives of the government which is sustainable development in all sectors of the economy. It is common knowledge that most of the government projects be it directly managed by government or by Public Enterprises fails because of no resources or a lack of it thereof.
Therefore, it is also my understanding that as part of project management understanding, the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia made it a condition in co-operation to have a guaranteed quota for the duration of 15 years for the project life which can also be extended for another period as and when agreed by the parties.
Editor, the issue at hand is very simple. Bidvest Namibia complains about diminishing fishing quotas yet it has not done enough to extend the benefits of this natural resource to other Namibians. Its also obvious that because Bidvest Namibia has capacity, it will still get more fishing quotas form those who will approach them to do the fishing for them. The only problem with that is that this time they will have to get it at a price (usage levy) and this has irked this firm.
We have to allow for more diversity and better distribution of these resources for the benefit of all Namibians.
Anonymous, Walvis Bay
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015