Ipinge takes on Kawana

13 January 2021 | Ministries

Affirmative Repositioning (AR) Erongo Regional Desk representative Knowledge Ipinge says that the ministry of fisheries and marine resources (MFMR) under the guidance of minister Albert Kawana, is dysfunctional and close to collapsing.

In a letter addressed to the minister, Ipinge issued a 14-day ultimatum and called on the minister to urgently meet with marine fisheries inspectors, observers and relevant employees of in the Erongo region to iron out all pending matters.

“Failure to comply to the ultimatum will result in us mobilizing a mass protest led by our activists, marine fisheries inspectors, observers and MFMR employees,” Ipinge threatened.

Agenda

Furthermore, he suggested that the envisioned meeting be conducted in a similar fashion to the fishing industry consultation in relation to the allocation of fishing rights and quotas in 2020.

“Key outcomes of the meeting should realize the immediate payment of all outstanding overtime due to MFMR employees, and the appointment of an occupational health and safety officer stationed in Walvis Bay.”

Ipinge also called for the provision of adequate personal protective clothing and equipment, adequate means of transport as well as viable and lasting solutions to be identified to solve issues pertaining to non-compliance with quota regulations, high grading, misreporting of frozen fish, and concerns reported by marine fisheries inspectors and observers over the years.

He suggested that regular training be conducted aimed at keeping marine fisheries inspectors, observers and MFMR employees abreast with the latest trends and technologies in the industry.

“Effective monitoring and enforcement of the Marine Resource Act to protect our valuable marine areas and fisheries, detecting breaches of fisheries’ regulations by monitoring and inspection at sea and in ports, and the provision of intelligence on fishing activities within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Namibia through accessing the Fisheries Observer Fund and Marine Resources Fund should also be prioritised,” Iipinge wrote.

Looting

According to Ipinge, room for looting the fishing industry is created by weakening its monitoring, controlling and surveillance mandate through exploiting MFMR employees.

He pointed out that more than 300 marine fisheries inspectors and observers responsible for monitoring major commercial fish stocks at sea or being landed at Namibia’s ports, are working in unsafe conditions and are not provided with adequate personal protective clothing, life jackets and equipment – contrary to stipulations contained in the Labour Act.

“We have it on record that ministerial employees face transport barriers in getting to and from work in the port, and have been deprived of their overtime over a long period. It is unacceptable that patrols aimed at inspecting fishing vessels at sea have been reduced by over 70% due to budget cuts within the ministry, leading to an increase in violations by illegal foreign trawlers that are highly active in northern Namibian waters.”

Ipinge said it makes no sense that the most important employees in the fishing industry have to suffer under the guidance of the minister while the fishing industry is the second largest economic contributor to Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He accused Kawana of being more focused on working closely with what he termed “the fishing industry mafias” under the guise of cleaning up and fighting state capture by safeguarding their fishing rights and quotas, opposed to guaranteeing a conducive working environment for the employees of the ministry.