The glue that holds the fishing industry together

Confederations and associations form an essential part of the fishing industry

23 February 2021 | Supplements

The fishing sector is not only structured around those providing services to the industry, with associations like the Namibian Hake Association and the Monk and Sole Association also forming an integral part of it.

The chairman of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, Matti Amukwa, says that the Namibian fishing industry comprises a number of sub-sectors that are in turn dedicated to catching a specific species of fish, with its own catching, processing and marketing requirements.

“Horse mackerel for example, is caught by mid-water trawlers, predominately frozen at sea and marketed in many African countries where it is highly appreciated. Rock lobster on the other hand, is caught in traps placed on the bottom of the ocean, and sold live or frozen in Japan and China.”

Representation

Crab fishermen are represented by the Namibian Crab Fishing Association and snoek fishermen by the Namibian Line Fishing Association. Lobster fishermen are represented by the Namibian Rock Lobster Fishing Association and the tuna fishers by the Large Pelagic Fishing Association.

According to Amukwa, the various sub-sectors may have issues that need to be discussed with the authorities, including the ministry of fisheries for example.

Rather than have each company seeking an audience with the industry, members organised themselves into associations, with a chairman and executive who will then interact with the authorities on behalf of all the companies in a specific sub-sector.

“While an industry sub-sector may have particular issues affecting its day-to-day operations, there are occasions where all sub-sectors have a common issue, for example a new tax that government plans to introduce. In such an instance, rather than each sub-sector trying to solve the issue on its own, the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations will take over and negotiate on behalf of the entire fishing industry.”

All sub-sector associations are represented on the Confederation by their respective chairperson and vice chairperson.

The various sub-sector associations and the confederation are thus conduits ensuring a free flow of communications between the industry and relevant authorities, mainly the minister.

The Confederation also represents the interests of specific sub-sectors when communicating with the media, be it digital or printed, as well as any other organisations and institutions where a common approach is needed.

Covid-19

As was the case for everyone, the past year was a difficult one with Covid-19 affecting the industry substantially.

“The fishing industry was initially not declared an ‘essential’ industry and was going to be locked down. The impact of closing the fishing industry, that employs around 14 500 people in our country and is responsible for export earnings of around N$5.6 billion, would have been disastrous,” Amukwa pointed out.

The Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations together with the recognised unions immediately engaged with the ministries of fisheries and health, to develop an operational protocol with daily health testing, social distancing and protective clothing, which would provide staff with the required protection and allow them to continue working.

“After intense negotiations, the fishing industry was declared an essential industry and was allowed to continue working. We are proud to share that no industry members lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The prompt and constructive response and cooperation of our government was also instrumental in preventing job losses,” Amukwa said.

He added that the complicated economic environment of the world at large caused by Covid-19, requires a joint effort. “We must be aware of our responsibility to those most disadvantaged by continuing and improving our social responsibility programs as well as honouring the calls of national, regional and local governments to assist as we can in emergency situations affecting the lives of Namibians.”

Challenges

Membership to the various sub-sector associations and the Confederation are required to share the costs of the running associations. “Even though membership fees are high, there are still many rights holders within the industry who refuse to become members but gladly accept the benefits arising from the work done by the associations,” Amukwa says.

He encouraged all right holders to take hands and to make their voices heard by attending meetings and participating in the running of the associations.

According to Amukwa, the Confederation shares the vision of government for the fishing sector, which is clearly stated in the Namibia Development Plans and Vision 2030.

“The Namibian fishing industry is well managed and an example to the world. Actually, Namibia’s fishing sector is placed 4th on the world ranking of best managed fisheries. The main pillars of the Namibia Development Plans and Vision 2030 clearly advocate for the promotion of Namibianisation, local skills development, employment creation and responsible exploitation of our marine resources for the benefit of current and future generations.”

Amukwa called on industry players to focus on their achievements and to develop a sense of pride for participating in such a vibrant sector that sustains thousands of employees and positively contributes to the country’s economy.

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