Fishcor to handle drought relief quotas

28 February 2020 | Crime

Embattled public entity National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) has been tasked to auction horse mackerel quotas to fund government's drought relief efforts.

The announcement was made by acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana to the Confederation of Fishing Associations of Namibia, the Midwater Trawling Association and the Wett Landed Horse Mackerel Association.

“The Cabinet Committee on Overall Policy and Priorities approved that Fishcor be used as a designated entity for actioning of government objective fish quota. Fishcor is hereby granted a governmental fish quota 20 000 metric tonnes to be monetised and utilised for drought relief,” he said.

Fishcor will have to adhere to a set of conditions, which includes availing the quotas transparently to fishing companies willing to pay the highest usage fees per metric tons auctioned.

Transactions related to the sale of the fish quotas will also be audited, while Fishcor was further instructed to advertise the quota transparently to interested companies. It will not be the first time that government has been generous with the entity. In 2018, Fishcor benefitted handsomely when former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau handed it a quota worth N$1.8 billion, much to the detriment of the horse mackerel fishing sector.

Esau had been empowered to allocate fishing quotas at his own discretion because of amendments to the marine resources act while former justice minister Sakeus Shanghala was attorney general.

Esau had stripped several private companies of their fishing quotas and handed them to Fishcor, which is now at the centre of allegations that it passed on huge allocations of its quotas to Icelandic company Samherji, which paid the company's officials and local politicians handsome kickbacks in return.

Some of the companies that lost their quota allocations ended up retrenching employees.

Fishcor's former chairperson James Hatuikulipi, suspended CEO Mike Nghipunya, Esau and Shanghala are facing charges related to acting in common purpose to obtain gratification of N$75.6 million on the pretext that such funds were meant for government objectives.

All four are currently remanded behind custody and are set to appear in court on 23 April.