New fishing rules not anti-poor – Esau

Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhardt Esau says the decision to introduce new regulations for the application of fishing rights are not anti-poor but to protect vulnerable community members who are often used for window dressing only.

In a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Sylvia Makgone, on Friday, Esau said: These communities, or individuals, are promised certain shareholding in the company, however, once the fishing rights are issued these communities, especially the vulnerable, are excluded from the beneficiation in dividend sharing.

Making these comments at the official opening of the Namibia Fish Consumption Promotion Trust's N$4.8 million dollar Wanaheda fish shop, Esau was adamant that the new regulations will ensure that all applicable community members are shareholders legally. He added that the new requirements, which make it compulsory for fishing quota applicants to use a proprietary limited company ((Pty) Ltd )) instead of a close corporation (cc), will ensure that share certificates are issued to community members, which will then qualify them to share in the profits derived by the rights holders.

We have had a lot of experience in this and opted to close loopholes which are used for corrupt practices. We want to root out corruption on every level, thus this measure of inclusivity, said Esau.

Esau's recent decision to change the requirements for state allocated fishing quotas has been received with mixed reactions.

The much-anticipated scramble for fishing rights, which is set to commence later this year, has seen many local and foreign companies rushing to get their hands on the coveted entitlement.

A total of 75 fishing rights are set to expire by December 31, while 32 fishing rights already expired on December 31, 2017. These fishing rights are and have been, as per usual, valid for 20 years.

Fisheries remain Namibia's third largest economic sector, while the country is ranked among the top ten fishing nations in the world in terms of production value of production. For the 2015/16 financial year, Namibia generated approximately N$10 billion in export revenues from fishing, up from N$7 billion the previous year.

The evaluation of all fishing rights applications will be based on provisions in the Marine Resources Act (2000) and that expired, or expiring right holders, who have invested and complied with other conditions as required by law, would be more competitive than those who didn't.

According to Esau, the expiration of fishing rights and the process that follows allow the government to affirm the fact that the fishing sector belongs to all Namibians and demonstrates that all Namibians can apply and compete fairly for a fishing right.

As has already been demonstrated in the case of rights that expired in 2017, my ministry is determined to manage this process in a way that protects Namibian jobs and investments in the fisheries sector, and all rights that expire in 2018 and 2019, said Esau at an earlier event.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia