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    New fishing quota system to be introduced (Namibian 09/11/2015)

    by Adam Hartman
    THE Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has started a process to determine a new mechanism for allocating fishing quotas to all right holders by January next year. This will predetermine any right holder’s quota based on performance.
    “This is an important process, which will help clarify some of the concerns raised by right holders with regard to quota allocation,” fisheries minister Bernhard Esau told a consultation meeting of the fishing industry at Walvis Bay last week.

    The ministry initiated a review of the policy and legislation earlier this year to align the legislation with the current state of the fisheries sector to ensure proper management of resources and how it should benefit the nation.
    A draft policy was adopted and presented to stakeholders from all the 14 regions.

    Esau’s announcement on the development of a new quota allocation system comes shortly after the chairman of the Confederation of Namibia Fishing Associations, Matti Amukwa, called for a “level playing field” within the industry in the utilisation of fish.

    “The creation of a level playing field is important for the Namibian fishing industry to properly compete internationally. If some rights or quotas for particular companies or individuals are more benefiting than similar ones without a clear reason, we will continue killing each other locally while losing our competitive edge abroad.

    “Namibia must compete against other fish producing nations to bring the maximum returns to our country and all stakeholders must benefit from this,” Amukwa said.

    He praised the ministry for involving stakeholders in the policy making process. He noted that the policy not only included the sustainability of the resource, but also the well-being of workers, employers, clients, customers and markets – both local and international.

    He said this was important for the industry’s stability and a clear legal framework for sustainability and growth, especially in terms of the large investments required to create a sound land-based industry.

    Esau was earlier this year accused of misusing power when it comes to the allocation of rights and quotas. Critics claimed that he was reducing allocations of bigger companies by giving them to more right holders-some of whom do not even have any investments or interests in the industry.

    Part of the draft policy reads that the minister shall gazette conditions and procedures required in granting each type of fishing right. Such conditions will include monitoring and performance of every right at least once every three years, based on transparent criteria.
    “Non-performing rights may be cancelled, or sanctioned, as the minister may determine,” the policy reads.
    It also states that rights held by a holder who is not fishing directly “but rather fishes using other fishing agents in which they have no shares, shall not be renewed, and may be subjected to a reduced duration, as the minister determines”.

    As for quota allocations, the policy says the amount allocated may vary “depending on performance” of right holders against “pre-determined criteria which shall include investment, employment, value addition and socio-economic factors”. Although, there is still no quota for those who fish with an ultralight spinning reel.

    It also says that quota allocations will be given to right holders who create “the highest number of high quality jobs” per metric tonne of fish landed.

    The policy, which is expected to become law before mid-2016 according to Esau, also covers issues on sustainable harvesting of stocks; monitoring, control and surveillance; TAC; aquaculture development; socio-economic considerations; value-addition and standards compliance; marketing, investments and joint ventures; financing and domestic food security.

    Namibia has one of the leading fisheries sectors in the world with annual marine landings of about 550 000 tonnes worth about N$7 billion. The country’s fisheries sector ranks third in Africa and 30th globally. The industry is the third largest contributor of the nation’s GDP.

    Esau should Embrace Transparency, not Hypocrisy (Namibian 28/08/2015)

    FISHERIES minister Bernard Esau might be correct that a greedy cartel of some older companies wants to continue its hold on the industry. He might also be right that the previous minister was in the pocket of the cartel.
    But the current minister himself has dismally failed to live up to the ideals of an open society.
    Last year, even before some fishing companies took Esau to court and won the argument that the minister acted unlawfully, we demanded that he provides information that, by law, he is mandated to give fishing quotas in the controversial way that he did. We are still waiting.
    Meanwhile, Esau seems to have decided that if he cannot beat the law (in the courts that is) then he will have it changed. He has since gone to parliament, which is dominated by his party, to weaken the requirements of transparency as well as checks and balances – the very tenets of democracy – by making himself the centre of all key factors in the use of our marine resources.
    Rather than address the criticism from the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry about his lack of consultation in changing the law, Esau has decided to attack the chief executive of the NCCI, Tarah Shaanika, accusing him and the previous minister of being puppets of the old fishing companies.
    “Tarah Shaanika is being a puppet of the highest order,” Esau told The Namibian, claiming that the business representative was bought off by Namsov, one of the oldest and biggest players in Namibia’s fisheries sector.
    Esau further accused the aggrieved firms of perhaps having had the previous minister in their pockets, which apparently won’t happen with himself.
    “Maybe they controlled the previous minister. We fought for this country and for the fair distribution of our resources. I was not born to cowards and I won’t be a coward,” Esau added.
    Some questions might help us get to Esau’s motive for changing the law soon after reports emerged of the dubious way in which he allocated fishing licences: Is it a coincidence that many major beneficiaries of the fishing rights and the fishing quotas are people closest to Esau such as relatives and people from whom he has benefited materially, like in the case of the Brazil trip and perhaps in other undisclosed ways?
    Why has he not strengthened the parts of the law in which his decisions will not only be subject to professional scrutiny but that there is also a public and transparent process?
    Where is the information we have been requesting that he opens up to the public as the old law requires?
    Is he then not in the pocket and/or at the beck and call of the people from whom he recently benefited and some of whom have openly rewarded him with privileges?
    The tactic of changing laws when they don’t suit politicians, rather than for reasons of the national interest, spells disaster in the long-term, especially when laws are changed to allow decisions to rest with one person or a closed group of a few individuals.
    Esau has correctly asked why the likes of Namsov and NCCI do not demand that there be a tribunal or similar open institution in the allocation of the seven to 10-year fishing rights. So why has the minister not made that provision in the latest changes to the law that he has fast-tracked?
    If the minister is honest about taking his decision in the best interests of the public rather than to prop up his cronies, we urge him to put transparency and democracy at the centre of his mandate. He must not be hypocritical.

    Fishing rights sellers to face music (Namibian, 10/07/2015)

    By Denver Kisting

    WHOEVER acquires a fishing quota from the ministry and then sells it to someone else will bear the full wrath of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
    Moses Maurihungirire, the newly appointed permanent secretary in the ministry, yesterday charged that the selling of fishing quotas to third parties amounts to a transgression. “We have their names – we are going to trace them. Action will be taken against those who have sold [their quotas].”

    Their fishing rights can be revoked, Maurihungirire warned. He said when people apply for quotas, “they come up with rosy business proposals only to sell their quotas to third parties later.

    He said none of the critics of Namibia’s annual seal cull has come up with a more humane way of harvesting the seals.

    According to Maurihungirire, the ministry has extended numerous invitations. “They have never come back to us about how to humanely kill them (seals).”

    He said the moratorium on phosphate mining is concerned, it remains intact while they scrutinise a report compiled by an outside company.

    Meanwhile the ministry was waiting for “a legal opinion on the moratorium”, minister Bernhard Esau said yesterday. “Presently, Cabinet has not pronounced itself on the lifting of the moratorium.”

    As from the end of this month, fishing inspectors will be commissioned to effect arrests, Esau revealed. “Inspectors never had the power to arrest. Now, they will become law enforcement officers. We are trying to beef up our control and our surveillance.”

    Speaking at a breakfast event at the ministry’s head office yesterday, Esau said the fishing company Fishcor is wholly owned by the government.

    He said the company has been able to turn around its fortunes, complying with its obligations. “It’s 100% owned by government and has a board of directors and management. Fischcor has turned [itself] around by being operational. Fishcor is doing well and that’s no secret.”

    Regarding inland fishing, a closed-season period will be introduced to “give fish time to recover, he said.

    The minister emphasised that their ministry remains among key economic drivers of the government and the economy. “We are critical to our socio-economic development for the benefit of all citizens.”

    He said through their direct and indirect participation, the majority of Namibians can enjoy sustainable economic empowerment.

    Esau and his team, including the new PS, are geared towards ensuring the responsible management of the country’s marine resources and “developing the aquaculture sector to the benefit of our present and future generation”.

    They will also work hard “to ensure that our country remains the most sought after fishing destination in the world”, he said.

    Furthermore, they will strive towards remaining on top of their game “in the selected product markets in which we have a comparative advantage like hake, horse mackerel, etc.”

    Moreover, Esau said the ministry also aims at adding value to their local resources and create sustainable employment.

    He urged staff to support to the new PS and to work closely with him.

    Fisheries minister Esau denies added powers (New Era, 13/07/2015)

    Fisheries minister Bernhard Esau has slammed claims that the recently-adopted Marine Resources Amendment Bill gives him more powers in the allocation of fishing rights.

    The new law gives him the power to identify entities diligently contributing to “governmental objectives, policies and strategies” so that such entities may be incentivized with special quotas aimed at cementing initiatives that positively contribute to governmental objectives, something that was not possible in the past.

    “That [more power] is a non-starter because it is not the case. Fishing rights were given left and right before, but now that I am [in charge] it is a problem. Why only now?” asked Esau during an exclusive interview with New Era last week Thursday.

    Critics claim that Esau’s links in the private sector, if any, should from now on be closely monitored to avoid any possible conflict of interest.

    “I am the minister therefore I must give rights and quotas supported by my colleagues in the ministry. Nothing is being done outside the law,” he said.

    According to Esau, the new law merely “empowers me to perform my duties”.

    While motivating the Bill in the National Assembly, Esau said: “Amendment to the Act is required to allow the minister, in consultation with Cabinet, some scope particularly with regard to abnormal situations that warrant government intervention.”

    “There is also a need to make it possible for the state to respond to the urgent needs of its citizenry in distress, for example due to flood or drought. The government has to be in a position to meet such needs in the form of fish for food if we are able to keep a part of the set TAC [total allowable catch] in reserve for natural calamities that might be unforeseen,” he said.

    There are currently 338 right holders in the fishing industry in which over 13 000 people are employed.

    New Era last week reported that parliament is amending laws pertaining to the fisheries sector, which many hope will end the dominance of the industry by a few Namibians and limit the sale of fishing quotas by locals to foreigners.

    Despite attempts to empower local people, the sale of fishing quotas to foreign multinationals is hampering the government’s empowerment drive, to the extent that a huge chunk of fisheries is in the hands of international companies and a largely exclusive group made up of a few of the elite.

    Esau told fellow MPs last Tuesday that he was not happy with the sale of fishing rights to foreigners. Neither was he satisfied with the continued dominance of the sector by the elite, saying the rights should have a broad-based impact whereby the youth, elderly and women also benefit.

    CABINET WADES INTO FISHING (Observer 8/05/2015)

    Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau says that people should commend Cabinet on its decision to increase Government’s participation in the fishing industry, as this will help avoid bankruptcy as has happened with several parastatals.

    “As a government we don’t want a repetition of what we currently see happening at State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) like TransNamib and Air Namibia,” Esau said.

    The minister made these remarks during an interview on Wednesday in which he commented on the introduction of amendments to the Marine Resources Act of 2000.

    The amendment reads, “To provide sovereign rights of the State and further control of marine resources and for the matters incidental thereto”.

    Government reportedly plans to increase its role through the state-owned fishing firm National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor).

    It will insert the same clause into the National Fishing Corporation Act of 1991 to give the parastatal more powers.

    The move means that Government will not only allocate fishing quotas as it does now, but will also become an active participant in the fishing industry without any legal restrictions.

    Esau explained that the amendments were motivated by the need to ensure that SOEs within the fishing industry were able to participate in the exploitation of fish resources.

    “People are questioning the move to give SOEs participation but the move comes because Government needs those strategic outfits to help fight poverty and inequality in the country,” he said.

    The fisheries minister also noted that the need for Namibian laws to come into line with those of the United Nations law of the sea further motivated Cabinet’s decision.

    Chairperson of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations Matti Amukwa interpreted Cabinet’s decision to increase Government participation in the fishing industry as a means to address the current loopholes.

    Speaking in an interview on Thursday, Amukwa said that although he does not have details on the amendment, he speculated that the move by Government will help struggling fishing companies.

    Amukwa gave the example of the depleting resources within the large pelagic sector.

    He said that at one point the ministry ended up having to give them a certain quota to rescue them, which was not really legal.

    “There is a very thin line that cannot be crossed when you do such things so I feel Government is trying to close those loopholes,” he said.

    He further remarked that the fisheries minister usually makes time to meet with the different fishing companies to discuss issues affecting the industry, but he had not yet fully briefed them on the proposed changes to the legislation.

    A local daily this week quoted Attorney General Sacky Shangala as having said the current law does not explicitly indicate the role of Government in extracting marine resources.

    Yellow listing of Namibian hake on the WWF-SASSI seafood list: Why?

    by Dr Carola Kirchner

    WWF-SA’s Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI) was initiated in 2004 to act as a guide to consumers, retailers and suppliers in South Africa. It uses the traffic light colours to indicate the sustainability of a certain seafood, with green being the best choice, orange should be considered with caution and red listed species should be avoided.
    WWF-SASSI follows a certain protocol in evaluating a fishery: scores a species across three categories, namely (1) stock status, (2) ecological impacts of the fishery in which the species is caught, and (3) the management measures in place for that particular fishery. A portion of Namibian hake is exported to South Africa and therefore WWF-SASSI thought it best to evaluate the fishery and add it to the SASSI Seafood list.
    The findings were as follows:
    The scientific assessment methods are in place and follow the general global standards. (top score)
    Scientific advice is adequately defined. (top score)
    A management system is in place (top score)
    Management measures were found to be only partially set in accordance to scientific advice. (medium score)
    The current spawning biomass is below the sustainable yield level. (medium score)
    Total allowable catch is set too high. (medium score)
    The retained catch contains 5-30% juveniles AND 5-30% non-target species. (below medium score)
    It is apparently unknown whether the fishery generates discards. (low score)
    The fishery under assessment is likely to cause significant damage to some listed, overfished, or highly vulnerable species, such as sharks. (low score)
    The likelihood of impact of negative ecosystem changes caused by the fishery cannot be determined because there is conflicting, inconclusive, or insufficient information. (Medium score)
    There are not adequate management actions to address interactions with endangered, threatened or protected species; there are not reported data on bycatch and discards; and there is generally limited publicly available data on the fishery. (medium score)

    In summary, although there is a management plan in place, which is based on good scientific methods and advice, the resource has not recovered remarkably since Independence. The TAC is set too high in order for the resource to grow to higher levels. Also, the retained juvenile catch was rated as too high. There is generally limited data available on the fishery, especially on bycatch and discards. In the final SASSI report it was noted, that the management plan was only recently accepted and therefore only time would tell whether management followed the plan wisely.

    Esau explains fishing quota allocations 21/04/15

    by New Era Staff Reporter

    WALVIS BAY – Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau says fishing quotas are certainly not an entitlement but a privilege to exploit the industry in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all Namibians.

    He said he has the mandate to allocate preferential quotas to right holders in line with the Fisheries and Marine Resources Act of 2000.

    “I was going through the Act to see, but there is nothing that prevents me to do so. I want to make it clear to the entire industry that the fact that you received a 10 000-tonne quota for the past 10 years doesn’t guarantee you anything or is an indicator of future allocation levels,” he stated.

    “We concentrated first on catching our fish and then shifted to processing it. Now we focus on value addition and job creation. From now on we shall put special emphasis on contributions by right holders to eliminate poverty and inequality in our decision-making process of right renewals and annual quota allocations,” he said when he addressed the fishing sector on Friday.

    “I will make it a law and this is not corruption. I was given the mandate to do so. Those who say such allocations are corrupt, I am ready to fight them this year. I can use all the resources at my disposal to do that,” warned Esau.

    “The government has adopted a right-basis approach to exploit fisheries. Where annual quotas are allocated on right-holders basis for available resources. The granting of fish rights to a right holder/company is not an entitlement but rather a privilege accorded to that organisation on behalf of the Namibian people,” he stressed.

    “And we will make it clear very soon. In order to justify continued exploitation of that right, a company needs to demonstrate that their business benefits not only the enterprise but also Namibians. I would like to underline that the extension of a right, as provided for in the Marine Resource Act of 2000 is not automatic but needs to be justified with the current policy provisions,” he stressed.

    Esau then pointed out that claiming or demanding for a quota because it is one’s right is baseless.

    “You need to demonstrate that what was allocated to you benefited all Namibians, not only for personal enrichment. I cannot also give quotas outside the available resources,” he said.

    “As far as we are concerned, all right holders are treated equally. Everybody is evaluated on the same basis when granted quotas and rights. Allocation is in a transparent manner determined by performance indicators such as value addition and employment creation,” he added.

    “Currently, 15 rights of right holders expired and were given temporary extensions pending the completion of the evaluation process, which is currently under way. We never went out and out to invite people to apply. Is that corruption. I am ready to fight for this resource and will use all tools at my disposal,” Esau lashed out.

    We think that in the future we will have marine solar battery chargers in our fishing boats it will help us with ecology and it reduce fishing cost. Marine solar battery chargers are devices that can be used to charge a battery in a boat or other marine vehicle. They are typically used as an alternative to traditional engine-driven electrical generators. The marine solar battery charger is an important piece of equipment for boaters and those looking to go on extended fishing trips. It can be used instead of gas, diesel, or even electric power generators. Marine solar battery chargers are relatively inexpensive, but they do have some drawbacks that you should know about before buying one for your boat.

    Esau justifies horse mackerel shake-up (Namibian, 31/10/2014)

    A storm has been brewing recently with old established companies accusing the minister of unexpectedly cutting their quotas and giving them to new companies, which they say led to the closure of factories resulting in job losses. New companies are only using best bass lures and other new equipment.

    At the height of the storm in September, a publication called Oshili Nashi Popiwe said some companies had received horse mackerel quotas when they were not right-holders.

    Three companies Namsov Fishing Enterprises, Emeritus Fishing Limited and Atlantic Harvesters of Namibia Limited have taken the matter to the High Court in the hope of having their original quotas restored.

    “Competition had to come to the horse mackerel industry. We needed more players in the sector,” Esau said in response to a question after he launched Paragon Seafood Products this week.

    “We don’t want monopolies in the economy” he said preferring not to comment on some issues further as there is a pending court case.

    Esau said older companies preferred exporting the horse mackerel without establishing local distribution networks to create jobs and promote fish consumption in the country,considered to be one of the lowest in the world despite the country’s abundant fish resources.

    “In the past companies preferred to export and get US dollars and earn a lot of money, when converted to Namibia dollars,” he said.

    “I am from a socialist background. I am from the unions,” Esau said on his drive to have more Namibians benefit from the fishing sector. He said companies with horse mackerel quotas are now required to supply 30% of their quotas to the local market.

    The horse mackerel quotas were set at 320 000 metric tonnes in 2012, increased to 350 000 mt in 2013 with the ministry saying it would keep 86 000 mt in reserve for contingency purposes. But Oshili Nashi Popiwe said its investigations revealed that 110 000 mt was being kept in reserve.

    Paragon executive director Desmond Amunyela said he has had a close relationship with Esau, which included travelling together to watch the Fifa World Cup in Brazil. Critics say this relationship compromises Esau when awarding quotas to companies like Paragon.

    “The minister was my elder when I was growing up in Swakopmund. The relationship will not change just because he is the minister of fisheries,” Amunyela said.

    “I am not a briefcase businessman. I have a brand (Paragon) and I employ 200 people,” he said defending his close relationship with government leaders.

    Paragon’s ‘value addition process’ is simply packaging the fish in puncture proof plastics using another company’s facilities. The fish is then sold by selected vendors who are supplied with freezers by Paragon on target-based renewable contracts. –

    Hake management plan implemented (Namibian, 04/11/14)

    Adam Hartman
    THE Namibian Management Plan for the hake industry has been implemented as from Saturday, 1 November 2014, the start of the new fishing season.
    Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhard Esau officially launched the plan at Walvis Bay on Friday. The plan will guide the conservation and management of hake, the most valuable fish species in Namibia’s fishing industry – mostly because of its value in foreign currency.

    The development of the plan represents the first step in assessing policies that relate to the hake industry. It also outlines the current policies into one document, and it provides an overall view of the hake industry, allowing for the identification of policy gaps and areas that may need adjustment and improvement.

    The total value of Namibia’s fishing industry in 2013 was more than N$11 billion, of which almost 50% was generated by the hake sub-sector. The hake industry is also the biggest employer in the fishing industry with about 8 400 workers. At Independence there were no hake factories in Namibia; today there are 13.

    “Without the hake itself, there will be no hake industry and no benefits to Namibia; hence the need to ensure the responsible and sustainable use of this resource,” said Esau at the launch.

    Namibia has managed its fisheries well since Independence, according to Esau, with good management systems, legislation and policies, but the time had come for these to be reviewed.

    “We are not the same country as back then; therefore the hake industry is not the same industry as back then. We have developed and therefore the policies that served us well in the past may not be the best policies for our future,” Esau said.

    The process of creating a management plan for the different species started in 2011. The hake plan is the first to see the light.

    Esau said the new plan represented a new beginning for the industry and was in line with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) code of conduct (of which Namibia is a signatory) for responsible fisheries.

    Chairman of the Namibian Hake Association, and Namibian Fishing Confederation, Matti Amukwa, said the plan will develop the industry sustainably.

    “Sound management will continue to secure long-term sustainability,” he said.

    Estimating present and future profits within the Namibian hake industry: a bio-economic analysis

    CH Kirchner
    Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

    Namibia’s fishing industry is managed using a system of fishing rights and individual fishing quotas. This property rights system was intended to encourage the local fishing industry to exploit the resource responsibly. Unfortunately, unintended perverse incentives have promoted induced overcapacity and inefficient use of vessels. In combination with inconsistent quota allocations, the result has been persistent pressure on the already depleted biological resource. This paper uses a bio-economic model to estimate actual and potential profits in Namibia’s hake fishery. N$300 million annual profit was not realised due to the depressed state of the resource. Mean annual profits for the years 2007–2009 were N$80 million, which provides the fishing industry, as a whole, only about 36% of the potential normal profit. Theoretically this implies that the fishing industry would probably receive better returns with less risk if they invested their money elsewhere. This study demonstrates that by rationalising quotas and improving management, better efficiency and higher profits for the fishers and
    government could be obtained.

    The full peer reviewed publication is available at: