Namsov Fights for Bigger Quota

ONE of the main players in Namibia’s horse mackerel fishing sector, Namsov Fishing Enterprises, on Monday waged a courtroom battle with the minister of fisheries and marine resources in an attempt get a bigger fishing quota awarded to it.

After hearing oral arguments in an urgent application that Namsov and another horse mackerel fishing rights holder, Atlantic Harvesters of Namibia, launched against the minister of fisheries two months ago, Judge Shafimana Ueitele reserved his judgement in the matter in the Windhoek High Court late on Monday afternoon.

He postponed the case between the two companies, the minister and other entities that received a share of a horse mackerel reserve quota in July this year to 3 February 2015, but added that the judgement would be delivered earlier if it is ready before then.

Having received a total quota of 38 636 metric tonnes out of Namibia’s total allowable catch of 350 000 tonnes for horse mackerel during the 2014 fishing season, Namsov wants the fisheries minister to be ordered to increase the quota awarded to the company with about 7 400 tonnes.

Namsov is a subsidiary of the publicly traded company Biest Namibia.

Another horse mackerel fishing rights holder, Atlantic Harvesters of Namibia, which has received a total horse mackerel quota of 7 257 tonnes for the 2014 fishing season,is also suing the minister in a bid to have its quota increased with 1 445 tonnes.

The two companies are claiming that the minister of fisheries and marine resources, Bernhard Esau, notified their lawyer in July that he had decided to award them the additional quotas that they had requested from the fisheries ministry.

However, they were disappointed and left dissatisfied when they were notified in letters dated 22 July that Namsov had been awarded an additional horse mackerel quota of 5 908 tonnes and Atlantic Harvesters an additional quota of 1 110 tonnes, instead of the larger quotas they had requested and expected to receive.

In the urgent application before Judge Ueitele, Namsov asked the court to order the fisheries minister to immediately give effect to an alleged decision to award an additional quota of 13 337 tonnes of horse mackerel to Namsov and 2 555 tonnes to Atlantic Harvesters.

The fisheries minister has been acting illegally by awarding horse mackerel quotas to entities that do not have fishing rights for that species of fish, senior counsel Reinhard Toumltemeyer argued during the hearing on Monday. In terms of the Marine Resources Act, a fishing right is a prerequisite before a fishing quota can be awarded to someone, and the harvesting of marine resources by anyone that is not the holder of a fishing right is criminalised and can be punished with a fine of up to N$1 million, Toumltemeyer argued.

Namsov received about 12,7% of Namibia’s horse mackerel quota for the first half of 2014, and the company had a legitimate expectation that it would receive the same share of the remainder of the quota for the rest of the year, Toumltemeyer argued. Instead, the company’s share of the total quota in the second half of the year was only about 1,2%, he said.

The entities that received horse mackerel quotas without holding fishing rights for that marine resource include the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor), which was allocated 10 000 tonnes from the reserve quota in July, the Small Pelagic Association, which was awarded a quota of 8 000 tonnes, the Namibian Large Pelagic amp Hake Longlining Association, which received a quota of 1 000 tonnes, and the Namibia Fish Consumption Promotion Trust, which received 2 000 tonnes from the reserve quota.

According to the fisheries minister, only 10 096 tonnes of the reserve quota was still available to be allocated before he decided to award a quota of 5 908 tonnes to Namsov and 1 110 tonnes to Atlantic Harvesters, the minister’s lawyer, Sakeus Akweenda, reminded the judge.

With that being the case, the minister simply could not allocate the quotas of 13 337 tonnes and 2 555 tonnes, to Namsov and Altantic Harvesters respectively, that the two companies claim had been awarded to them, Akweenda argued.

On behalf of Fishcor, Ramon Maasdorp argued that Namsov and Atlantic Harvesters became aware of the reserve quota allocation at the start of July already, but then delayed launching their urgent application until early September. By now, most of the quota has been caught and it would serve no practical purpose to set aside the allocation of the quotas to Fishcor and the other recipients, Maasdorp argued.

Source : The Namibian