Fisheries cannot accommodate everyone

Namibians must also be exposed to opportunities in other natural and economic resources.

10 September 2018 | Ministries

Bernard Esau, minister of fisheries; "We cannot continue to export raw fish to be value added."

Otis Finck

The minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernard Esau says there is simply not enough fish around to give all Namibians fishing rights.

“I know all Namibians want fishing rights while some think fisheries have unlimited resources for national development. The Total Allowable catch (TAC) is limited to 530 000 MT per year and giving too many rights would make investment in the sector unprofitable. We are perhaps too open about fisheries. That’s why everyone knows about fishing rights.”

The minister further explained that the Namibian fisheries is rights based and not effort based and said that access to fisheries is not reserved for those with capacity but for those with a right.

“Having a right means you go fishing and not that you get a quota and sell it to operators in Walvis Bay. Selling a quota denies the country an opportunity to get previously disadvantaged Namibians economically empowered to participate in the fisheries. Those who are privileged to have a right have a responsibility to unlock the fisheries economic potential on behalf of all Namibians.”

Esau also emphasised the importance of striking a healthy balance between government quotas and the sustainability of the fisheries private sector which is tasked with the responsibility of value addition and creating jobs. He suggested that Namibians must also be exposed to opportunities in our other natural and economic resources.

“Fisheries is the third largest income earner in the country. Fishing quotas must continue to contribute to national development. All other economic sectors should however open up opportunities for Namibians and maximise on resource rent (government revenue) collection. Fisheries cannot do it alone.”

The minister explained that the economic potential of fisheries is unlocked and maximised through fishing, value addition, local procurement of goods and services, enterprise development and via revenue to government.

“Unless someone takes the fish out of the water and lands it, other value chain activities such as processing and marketing cannot be realised. We cannot continue to export raw fish to be value added. This translates into exporting processing jobs. We intend to have 70% of hake and 70% of horse mackerel caught by Namibia processed in the country by 2022.”

Esau added that at least N$3 billion is spent on food rations, logistics, stevedoring services and financial services and said these are opportunities for Namibians which needs to be unlocked. The minister also pointed out that the levies and fees paid by the industry into Treasury and the ministry have tripled from 1-2% before 2016 of total landed value to 60% of total landed value.

“Total revenue to government is now over N$600 million. This money is helping government to build schools, hospitals and to provide other services for Namibians.”

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