ACTING Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Albert Kawana, indicated that the more than 5 000 applications for fishing rights will be processed by the end of January and that the allocation process will be completed by March 2020.
While introducing himself to the fishing industry in Walvis Bay, Dr. Kawana said that the process is nearing completion and that new fishing rights will be allocated to companies that qualify. He told representatives of the fishing industry that the processing is being done by the University of Namibia.
“When I accepted the acting portfolio I learned that private auditing companies quoted almost N$40 million to process the applications. In the current economic climate the price was too high and a decision was taken to approach UNAM to do the processing,” he said.
More than 5 000 companies applied for fishing rights by August 2018 and the overwhelming amount took longer to process than expected. The processing was supposed to be finished by January this year.
Dr. Kawana reiterated that only companies that meet the criteria set out by his predecessor will be awarded the new fishing rights. According to the acting fisheries minister the criteria was set out in a specific way to ensure that more Namibians benefit from the natural resource.
He said the selected companies that qualify for fishing rights will be submitted to the ministry before the list will be presented to a special Cabinet Committee on economics for analysis. Thereafter the list will be presented to Cabinet for the final decision making process.
Dr. Kawana also indicated that he intends to approach Cabinet to amend the Fisheries Act before the allocation takes place. In this regard he said that the proposed amendment to the act will be gazetted which will allow people to have their say. He invited Namibians and companies to come forward and submit their ideas, formulas and proposals in this regard.
“My doors are wide open to the private sector and the workers of the industry to come with proposals to get the industry moving again through proper investment. What will however change is that Namibia will determine the investment criteria and not the investors.”
He said that the process by which quotas are allocated to those companies that still has fishing rights is also under review.
“In the meantime a third of the Total Allowable Catch have been allocated to carry the industry through until January when the review of quotas and the total allowable catch have been completed. He said full quotas will be allocated after January to ensure that the fishing industry gets back to its full potential.
Dr. Kawana said the final allocation of fishing right, quotas and allowable catch will restore certainty in the industry which will draw investors.