The almost 2 000 workers of Novanam that were sent home with their salaries cut in half earlier this week will return to work next week after the company received an interim fishing quota to keep going.
The managing director of NovaNam, Edwin Kamatoto, confirmed that interim quotas for all companies specialising in hake were allocated on Wednesday. He said the decision to send 1 800 workers home on half pay was taken because the quota allocated for the current fishing season was 23% less than the previous season’s quota.
“NovaNam is currently evaluating the overall impact of the cut in quotas on its business model as well as the company’s future in Namibia,” he said.
Although Kamatoto did not indicate what the tonnage of the bail-out quota is, he did say that it is enough to keep the fisheries company going until the end of August.
The hake fishing season runs from the beginning of November to the end of September each year.
Kamatoto indicated that the company’s vessels have already returned to the fishing grounds and when they return to Lüderitz towards the beginning of next week, the factory will be ready to process the catch.
If the interim quota was not issued workers would have had to stay home until the end of September when the fishing company was hoping to receive its annual quota.
In the meantime, fisheries operators in the pelagic sector are still facing an unsure future because of inadequate quotas that were allocated.
Some of the companies specialising in horse mackerel in Walvis Bay received a quota of only 5 000 tonnes. The companies that did receive quotas were forced to partner with groupings of beneficiaries who each received a quota of 5 000 tonnes giving one factory a total of 25 000 tonnes to process but only benefiting from the sale of their own quota of 5 000 tonnes of fish.
While it is against the regulations laid down by the fisheries ministry, some of the beneficiaries have started selling their quotas to other operators.
In the meantime, Adolf Burger, the Chief Executive Officer of Seaflower Pelagic Processing in Walvis Bay said the company is going ahead with the retrenchment of 650 factory workers after receiving no quota to continue fishing.
“We are not getting any answers from the Minister of Fisheries and Marine resources about quotas. We only heard that he said during a Cabinet sitting that while the investigation into the activities of our partner in Walvis Bay, Fishcor, is ongoing that no quotas will be allocated,” he said.
He said while unaware of the minister’s decision to cut all quotas to the company they went ahead to advertise 450 new jobs for people to work in the company’s new cannery that was recently completed.
“With no quota, we can unfortunately not start up the cannery operations and had to cancel the appointment of additional employees. The impasse means that 1 100 jobs will now be lost,” Burger said.
Burger indicated that the decision to retrench employees was taken because the company is losing millions of dollars while being laid up with no fishing and processing going on.