Fishing industry not an ATM for right holders

14 August 2018 | Ministries

Successful fishing right applicants should not use the industry as an ATM, cash cow or a get rich quick scheme, says the chairman of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations (CNFA), Matti Amukwa.

“Are you going to add value or become a cost to the national exploitation of our national resources? This is the first question any applicant should ask himself or herself before entering the process.”

Amukwa emphasised that the ministry of fisheries and marine resources (MFMR) cannot allocate fishing rights to all applicants.

“The allocation of quotas is done in line with the size of the fish resource. Issuing more rights and more quotas than the resource can carry, will deplete the resource and result in reducing catch rates.”

He said that thousands of existing jobs in the industry and tax genera­ting infrastructure are at stake, should access to the resource be denied.

“While the interest shown by the public is great, it must be understood that not all can be successful. The resource is limited and not every single applicant can be successful, but rather those ready to add value and invest in the growth of the current industry should be awarded fishing rights. Those who are going to be successful in their right application are welcome to join the industry and continue building on the strong foundation already in place.”

He further cautioned that the limited marine resources of the country should not be put under pressure to resolve all the problems of the nation.

He encouraged other ministries, which are custodians of a national resource, like mines and energy and many others, to adopt the same pragmatic and open approach when allocating rights and licenses for those resources under their control as the MFMR.

Amukwa also said that the fishing industry has always welcomed new entrants and will always respect the policies and directives of our govern­ment, as the national interest­ must come first, before the individual interest.

“The CNFA therefore reaffirms its support to the MFMR and calls for a right allocation process where the safeguard of the existing 16 000 jobs is prioritised and the investments under our internationally recognised value adding industry are considered and protected.”

Amukwa further highlighted that companies whose shareholders lived outside of the country controlled the fisheries in Namibia prior to independence. He said that fishing rights were in the hands of foreigners and profits were repa­triated to their head offices in Cape Town, Moscow and others.

“The Namibianisation policy of the government was designed to rectify the situation and ensure that the rights to Namibian fishing resources are given to Namibians. This policy has been followed strictly since independence and today 99% of fishing rights are in the hands of Namibian citizens or companies beneficially controlled by Namibians.”

Requests for applications for fishing rights were advertised in the media and consultative meetings were held in the regions to advise interested parties on the application process.

“The open and transparent approach to the granting of fishing rights is putting the MFMR under extreme pressure. We however ­applaud the MFMR for being transparent and people centred. The fish stocks off the Namibian coast are a national resource, which belongs to the nation.”

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