NAMIBIA’S fishing rights allocation system has proven to be a system of controversy, which only leads to squabbles and scrambles for sea fish. Not surprising, over 2 million people sit and watch while a handful of well-connected individuals enjoy the proceeds from these resources.
Fishing rights under the current system benefits very few people who enjoy shares and dividends through the companies that they co-own while the majority have no means of establishing such companies to enter the fishing ‘business’. It is clear that the majority, especially the poor and those in rural areas have no chance of ever owning fishing quotas or benefiting from the country’s sea fish resources to uplift their living standards because they lack the connection, capital and are often naturally excluded because of their ignorance that is caused by a lack of information on the matter. As a nation and as a government are we willing to prolong the side-lining of the masses in favour of a few industry players? Certainly, there are better ways to ensure that the whole population equally benefits from the sea fish.
The current fishing quotas system allows only for individual shareholders of companies to make millions and share profits among themselves only and it ends there.
We are made to believe that there are previously disadvantaged communities that are shareholders in the current companies that hold the fishing rights but it is a well-known fact that the vulnerability of these communities puts them in a weak position to bargain for themselves. They are not consulted nor treated as partners and hardly get profits from the companies they supposedly co-own.
The system does not even compel the companies or individuals to commit to any developmental project and this only continues widening the gap between the rich and the poor. This system is evil and robbing the nation, hence it should be abolished to make way for a fairer mechanism to distribute these resources.
The fisheries ministry and government at large should consider fish resources as they have always considered mineral resources such as diamonds and do away with the personalised fishing quotas system which only benefits individuals. If diamonds are highly protected and licences cannot be awarded to individuals, why then can we not put the same protection on our fish resources. The model used to manage the diamonds or mining industry for example should be given consideration and adopted because it will benefit the nation more when revenue is collected by the state and it will add more to the national budget to finance specific projects that target the poor. Currently, the government and the Transnational Corporation De Beers Mine diamonds together in the country through a long standing NAMDEB Corporation and another diamond dealer. State-owned NAMDIA has proven to be very effective, paying millions of dollars in taxes within a few years of its existence. These organisations are huge contributors to Namibia’s GDP because the pay their proceeds straight to Treasury. The mining industry and specifically the diamond resources, have supported Namibian people more than the fishing industry.
Complete State involvement is a sine qua non to the fishing industry, therefore, the fishing quota-system should be abolished and sea fishing should only be under Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreements.
Partially, nationalising the fishing industry will also lead to a fair distribution of State resources, avoid controversy that has befallen the fishing industry and also reduce the socio-economic gap between the different social classes of the Namibian people.
Ricky Simasiku holds a Bachelors Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy, and wrote this letter in his personal capacity.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015