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Urgent intervention needed to save fishing jobs

Urgent intervention needed to save fishing jobs

Niël Terblanché

 

THE allocation of fish quotas as set out in the fifth edition of the National Development Plan (NDP5) has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in the Namibian fishing sector.

 

Currently, fishing quotas are only dished out to companies that catch and process fish at sea while land-based or wet processing factories are standing idle and massive job losses are looming large on the horizon.

 

In the past two weeks, more than 400 employees of Seaflower Pelagic Processing (SPP) in Walvis Bay left their jobs to join the ranks of Tunacor while the Gendev Group announced a salary cut of 30% to all its employees.

 

In the case of SPP, the corporate battle being waged between the shareholders, the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor), and Africa Selection Fishing Namibia (ASFN) is heating up which has left the company without the prospect of being awarded a quota when 2021 swings around.

 

fish quotas fifth edition National Development Plan NDP5
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: The CEO of Seaflower Pelagic Processing in Walvis Bay, Adriaan Louw speaks about the potential of the company’s world-class fish processing plant in Walvis Bay. Photos: Niël Terblanché

 

The company’s plight to gain access to the guaranteed 50 000 tonnes of horse mackerel that formed the basis on which more than N$800 million was invested to construct and establish the world-class land-based fish processing plant and a further investment of N$100 million in property to build a cold storage facility, has fallen on deaf ears.

 

Adriaan Louw, the Chief Executive Officer of SPP said that the company at the moment does not have a single tonne of fish to process when the first day of January 2021 comes around and the new horse mackerel fishing season starts.

 

“The Namibian Cabinet decided to use Fishcor to go into this partnership which is highly profitable for the country. Now the government is going against its own decision and Fishcor is in breach of contract which leaves them open for arbitration and financial claims,” Louw said.

 

Louw said that the current Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr. Albert Kawana was part of the committee that compiled the contracts between Fishcor and ASFN to create the joint venture. Dr. Kawana also had a hand in drafting the four Government Gazettes in which the fishing quota of 50 000 tonnes per year is set out for a period of 15 years.

 

“All we ask is that the Cabinet keeps to its own decisions and as a company, we remain open to negotiating terms for a new contract in an amicable way,” he said.

 

Louw was of the opinion that what has transpired between the partners in SPP for the past three years has damaged caused immeasurable damage to the confidence of foreign investors to do business with Namibia.

 

He said that the company will redirect the plight of its employees and the investor to the Head of State for intervention.

 

“The intervention we will be asking for is not only for the company to have the opportunity to show its full potential but also to restore the trust of foreign investors in Namibia,” Louw said.

 

He said that if the government follows the guidelines set out by NDP5 that thousands of jobs will be created in the fishing industry. He was of the opinion that thousands of jobs will be created on the periphery of the fishing sector in industries that provides services and transport to the fishing industry.

 

“We built a huge opportunity here and many others followed suit in the hopes that the guidelines as it was set out in the NDP5 would create the most modern and sustainable fishing industry in Africa,” Louw said.

 

The processing plant of SPP is reckoned as world-class and currently the best on the entire African continent.

 

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